Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Markets Endorse Rwanda’s Path To Economic Growth

Amid the rhetoric, pro and con, around Rwanda, the impartial voice of the marketplace has spoken, with a ringing endorsement of its economic turnaround and prospects for continued growth.
Last week, Rwanda’s debut on the global bond market raised $400 million with an offering that was heavily over-subscribed by nearly eight times. Final yield on the 10-year bonds of 6.875% was less than reported expectations in the low-7% area, due to strong buyer interest. Proceeds will go to repayment of bank loans, infrastructure such as a hydro power project, expansion of the national airline RwandAir, and the completion of a convention center in the capital of Kigali.
The successful bond issue triggered a flurry of enthusiastic postings on Twitter from Rwandan government officials (very savvy users of social media). Finance Minister Claver Gatete hailed a “great day for Rwanda after the investors have shown confidence in our economy….” President Paul Kagame tweeted his congratulations to those who worked to bring the bond offering to a successful conclusion, adding “Let’s continue forward.”
Beyond Rwanda’s enthusiasm, what speaks even more loudly is the oversubscription for these bonds. Yes, there is interest these days in higher yields and geographic diversification. But specific to Rwanda, the success of this offering shows widespread recognition that what has happened to transform this country socially, economically, and politically is real and sustainable.
Rwanda truly is the ultimate turnaround. For the African nation, the comeback has been from the depths of human bankruptcy: genocide in 1994 in which 1 million people were killed in 100 days. Since then, the rebuilding has been impressive, with GDP growth that has risen by 7-8% annually in recent years. In 2012, GDP per capita grew to US$644, up from $593 a year before, according to Rwandan government figures.
Fitch, which affirmed a “B” rating on Rwanda, noted its “solid economic policies and a track record of structural reforms, macroeconomic stability, and low government debt” (23.3% of GDP in Rwanda, compared to the median of 43.5% among B-rated peers). Certainly, the country is not without its challenges; it is landlocked, which vastly increases transportation costs for imported goods, and more electrical generation capacity is needed. It is often clouded by geopolitics, most notably the morass of conflict in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Kagame draws criticism for being too tightly controlling, and human rights watchers charge the country suppresses political opposition and free speech.
Rwanda, post-genocide, remains a complex place. Having the perpetually turbulent DRC as a next-door neighbor (where some masterminds of the genocide have sought refuge) complicates matters. Yet the country, backed by the strength of its leaders, has clearly put itself on a path of revival and renewal based upon values such as one Rwanda for all Rwandans. It offers universal health care and 12 years of compulsory education for all children, has made significant gains in poverty reduction and food security, and seeks to foster private sector development though homegrown entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment.
As we wrote in Rwanda, Inc., the country is no Garden of Eden for business investment. The wheels turn slowly at times with extra bureaucracy—the unintended consequence of strictly enforced zero tolerance for corruption, a policy that is a huge positive for business—and there is need for human capital development, particularly at the middle tier. But Rwanda’s progress continues apace, which the marketplace, the impartial arbiter, recognizes.

Museveni urges to focus on EAC political federation

Museveni EALA1
President Yoweri Museveni addressing EALA. (courtesy photo)
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has reiterated the need for East Africans to remove all hindrances in order to fast track the East African Community (EAC) integration and enable citizens to enjoy its benefits.
According to the Ugandan president, the emphasis should not only be on economic integration, but also on political integration through the formation of EAC federation. “Even if the economic integration is successful, there are some issues that you cannot address just by economic integration,” he pointed out. “It is not easy for instance to address the issue of common defense when you are different countries.”
Museveni, who is also the chairperson of the EAC summit of heads of state, made the remarks on Wednesday while addressing members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) who are having a special meeting in Kigali since April 12 to 26.
He noted that even the economic integration process is not easy when you are not of the same political mind, as can be seen in the current crisis of the Euro zone. “EALA and all members of the EAC should push even more for the cause of an EAC federation,” he pointed out.
Article 5 (2) of the treaty establishing the EAC states that there should be a Customs Union, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation in order to strengthen and regulate the industrial, commercial, infrastructural, cultural, social, political and other relations of the Partner States.
The community presents a market of around 130 million people, and the combined GDP of EAC nations is over US$ 79 billion.
Museveni urged the EAC to strive to first of all solve some of the fundamentals facing great challenges, thus hampering development. In this regard, president he highlighted “small markets and inadequate infrastructure, especially electricity” as major areas that need quick action.
“Before bargaining the international market, you need to have your own market. If you are small, then how will you go and negotiate big international markets,” he observed.
Museveni committed himself to prioritizing infrastructure development, and noted that he met both the Russian and Chinese presidents and interested them in some infrastructure. “Whenever I get a chance, I talk about the railway and also electricity,” he said.
Museveni EALA2
Yoweri Museveni flanked by EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera and EALA speaker Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, with EALA MPs. (courtesy photo)
Even though the EAC partner states have signed protocols such as the Common Market Protocol aimed at facilitating free movement of people and goods within the community, some hindrances to their implementation remain. It’s in this context that Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, the EALA speaker, took the occasion to call on the partner states to immediately adjust their domestic laws to conform to the Protocol.
“The Common Market Protocol which was signed three years ago spells out a number of benefits for the region including the free movement of persons, labor, goods and services.  We are yet to see real dynamism on the part of the partner states to facilitate the implementation of the Protocol,” she observed, adding that steps like the issuance of national identity cards will go a long way in facilitating the free movement of people.
Another vexing issue is the removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), which has proven to be a difficult exercise since it depends on the goodwill of the partner states.
“NTBs continue to pose a big threat to the free flow of business in the region and this limits the people of East Africa from enjoying the benefits of integration. The time has come for the EAC region to collectively seek permanent solutions to the removal of NTBs”, Zziwa said.
Despite the challenges, Museveni said he remains optimistic about the integration spirit. “When the EAC gets closer together, the sky is the limit especially now when we have discovered the gaps,” he concluded.

World Vision donates sports material to schools

World Vision Gahini
WVR Director George Gitau and Bishop Alexis Birndabagabo (L) giving the balls to children. (photo Jean-Christophe Nsanzimana)
World Vision Rwanda has donated sports material to youth in Kayonza districts, Gahini Diocese. The materials include 347 basketballs and 27 soccer balls and were handed to youth representatives on Thursday.
According to World Vision Rwanda National Director George Gitau, the donation is part of the organization’s goal and commitment to partner with churches in order to promote initiatives aimed at using sports and games to improve health, develop life skills, and foster unity and peace among youth.
“Bringing youth together through sports is vital as it provides a forum for them to learn skills such as discipline, confidence, self-esteem, leadership and core principles such as acceptance, cooperation and respect,” he said, adding that sports expand the value of efforts, teamwork and how to manage victory as well as defeat. “Sports can cut across barriers that divide societies, making them a powerful tool to support conflict prevention and peace-building efforts.”
Gitau also noted that sports can be an effective tool for empowering girls, women, given that they are often excluded from participation and from enjoying its physical and psycho-social benefits. He explained that sports integrate people with disabilities into society, providing an arena for positive social interaction, reducing isolation and breaking down prejudices. “Sports programs for the disabled are also cost-effective methods of rehabilitation. They are highly therapeutic, improving motor skills and increasing mobility, self-sufficiency and self-confidence.”
Anglican bishop Alexis Birindabagabo of Gahini Diocese foorhis part said that, through sports, the youth come together to discuss serious matters. “We will bring youth together irrespective of their background or ethnicity to socialize through sports. We have personnel who will be discussing with them various issues such as the importance of money saving, and sharing unity and reconciliation messages, thus minimizing any possible ethnic divisions.”
“Bringing them together will also help us address the issue of drugs abuse and discuss ways of leading a successful, normal life free of drugs,” the bishop stressed. “When you go fishing, you take what fishes like and not what you like. Through games, the youth can be involved in any campaign. They are the Rwanda of today, tomorrow and even afterwards because they will be the ones to light the path to their offspring. They cannot do so sustainably unless they are well-raised adults.”
WVR has also donated 500 wheelchairs to the Diocese, which were distributed mainly to youth with disabilities. Early last month, WVR through its partnership with the diocese, also distributed 20,000 pairs of shoes to 23 schools in line to promote hygiene and sanitation practices among students.
According to the mayor of Kayonza, John Mugabo, WVR has in addition built 16 houses for vulnerable families, 2 schools and partnered with the district in getting water close to the people.

ICT Ministry puts girls in the spotlight

Girls in ICT
Students watch a demonstration during the Girls in ICT fair. (photo Farouk Kaweesi)
It is a myth that women cannot excel in ICT, a field that has so far been dominated by men. This was proven as the ministry of youth and ICT (MYICT) on Thursday marked Girls in ICT day with the ‘Girls in ICT Career Fair.’
Held at Lycée Notre Dame de Citeaux, the event that attracted five girls’ secondary schools (Riviera High School, New Vision High School, Lycee de Kigali and Gashora Girls High School and the host school) was aimed at showcasing women’s achievements in ICT.
The Women in ICT group was formed to encourage women and girls to venture into ICT. For one to be a member, they must be in ICT at any level including being a student of the same.
The career fair enabled different public and private sector institutions, higher institutions of learning as well as high schools to showcase their work in ICT-related fields to students. Among the companies were Bank of Kigali, Tigo, Akilah Institute of Women, among others.
A panel of women representatives comprised of engineers from ICT sectors of big private companies like MTN, RDB, and RwandAir highlighted the use of ICT in transforming lives.
Also present was Esther Mbabazi, Rwanda’s first female pilot. Mbabazi who is among the six RwandAir pilots encouraged students to join aviation, and now flies regional routes to Nairobi and Congo.

Heavy rains, electricity black-outs blamed for water scarcity

EWSA water
James Sano, the deputy director general in charge of water and sanitation (R) and Theoneste Minani, the director of water at EWSA. (photo Farouk Kaweesi)
Some areas of Kigali city such as Kicukiro, Gikondo, Samuduha, Kimironko and Gatsata are reported to have been experiencing water scarcity for some time now. According to officials at the public utility EWSA, heavy rains and lack of power at water treatment plants and pumps are the main reasons.
The capital consumes about 60% of EWSA’s entire water supply.
According to the officials, heavy rains in most areas of the Western and Northern part of the country, which are the main sources of water for treatment plants, have caused soil erosion, flood and landslides. “This has affected EWSA water supply systems due to the high turbidity of raw water and springs which has made raw water muddy and untreatable,” a statement by the institution said.
As a result, water production at Kimisagara, Nzove and Karenge water treatment plants has been drastically reduced.  The officials say that the situation was worsened by electricity black-outs at some water treatment plants and pump stations.
All these problems combined have caused a decrease in production of 124,692 m3 (a 20% reduction) between January and April.
The Rwanda Meteorological Agency had in February warned that unusual rainfall should be expected from March through May. While areas of Eastern and Southern Province would experience minimal rainfall, Kigali city, Northern and Western Province as well as some areas in the south would be hit by heavier rains than usual.
Theoneste Minani, the director of water at EWSA, on Thursday said that these heavy rains are still affecting some of their water treatment plants. He noted that for instance the water level of Lake Mugesera in the East had risen by 73 cm, threatening nearby Karenge water treatment plant.
While emergency measures such as dikes were taken, Minani said that these are not sustainable solutions to deal with the problem.
To cope with the water scarcity, on the other hand, EWSA officials say that they are finalizing a water rationing program to ensure equitable supply to the affected areas.
In addition, EWSA also faces a problem of water that is consumed but not paid for. “This causes us the loss of 20% of the money that we should be gaining,” said James Sano, EWSA’s deputy director general in charge of water and sanitation.
According to Sano, the commercial losses are mainly the result of EWSA having accepted that some people are connected to the water network without having water meters, paying based on average consumption estimate. However, that practice will come to an end soon. “By the end of May, no one will be allowed to be connected to the EWSA network without a meter,” Sano warned.
Technical losses – water produced and lost before reaching consumers – also cause EWSA headaches, with 32% lost reduced from 40%. Sano notes that it’s not possible to completely eliminate such losses and that even the best water managers around the world can experience a loss of at least 5%.
In a move to minimize its own technical losses, EWSA is working closely with utilities from Germany and The Netherlands in addition to the body’s team that is on standby 24/7 to intervene in case of a technical mishap.
The country’s target has been to achieve 100% of access to clean water by 2017; in 2012, 70% was reached.

Public opposes lowering marriage age

Ruboneka (2nd R) stresses a point to legislators at the end of the session yesterday. The New Times/ John Mbanda.
Many Rwandans have sound reasons as to why marriage age must remain at 21 and not 18 as proposed in the draft law governing persons and family, Parliament heard yesterday.

Lawmakers on Parliament’s Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Gender were debating the Bill, which seeks to amend the 1988 law to align it with the Constitution, the Penal Code, current realities, and the country’s policy on gender equality.

The committee traversed the country gathering public views in 19 districts, including those in the City of Kigali.

Committee chairperson Alfred Rwasa Kayiranga said religious leaders, local leaders, women and youth representatives, and others, all indicated that the proposal is “not acceptable.”

“What was clear, in all the districts we visited, is that people highlighted that 18 years are way very low. And people gave several reasons,” Kayiranga said, adding that the main concern is the general wellbeing and life of a child produced by a teenage mother.

‘Raise it instead’

“We noted that all Rwandans understand the importance of ensuring that all our children have an appropriate education,” Kayiranga said. “People indicated that with universal primary education and after primary and secondary school, most children are 18 and if they were married off, it would be equal to destroying their future.”

Sylvestre Hitimana, a lawyer from the National Commission of Children (NCC), told the session that NCC was also concerned with Article 166 of the Bill.

The article states that a boy and a girl cannot enter into a marriage contract before attaining the age of 18.

Hitimana said: “Eighteen years of age is just too low. We largely base our position on the fact that in September 2011, government approved a new policy comprising everything to do with a child’s rights. For us we actually propose that marriage age could be increased. If it was more than 21, we would be more than happy. 25 years would be okay for us.”

He added that in a social context, even though at 18 one is grown up, that person has not attained maturity to manage life’s challenges, especially in marriage.

“This is basically one of the reasons why many families are breaking up,” Hitimana argued. 

Not ready for parenting

Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe’s Suzanne Ruboneka said the 58 organisations under her grouping also have noted with concerns on the proposed lowering of marriage age.

The organisations argue that there should be no differentiating between a boy and a girl when it comes to marriage age, resulting in a constitutional contradiction.

“At 18, a child in the village or in an urban locality in our society, is still an adolescent who is in plain transformation, and not even stable when it comes to decision-making. There is no doubt that such a child can give birth, after all, even at 14, one can give birth. However, when it comes to marriage, please understand that this is not only about giving birth. It is also about bearing children and caring for them,” Ruboneka said.

She warned against being influenced by practices in some countries, saying what is being done elsewhere does not necessarily mean it could be good for Rwanda.

Emmanuel Ntambara, from the Ministry of Youth and ICT, said he did not entirely understand the idea of slashing marriage age.

 “Apart from the issues my colleagues have raised, let’s also consider the economic perspective. Has there been research to indicate that at 18, in this country, one is able to handle the economic needs of raising a family? A family has to survive. There are welfare issues to consider,” Ntambara said.

Others including Unicef’s Francois Mugabo, Sylvie Uwimbabazi, from the Ministry of Education, Jephthat Uwayo, from the Ministry of Health, and Christine Tuyisenge, from the National Women’s Council also objected to slashing marriage age.

Jean Pierre Kayitare, the assistant Attorney General in charge of Legislation Drafting Services in the Ministry of Justice, told the session that government initiated the proposal to slash marriage age after considering significant issues highlighted in a 2005 study.

 However, legislators and civil society representatives challenged the study’s findings as outdated as it was conducted eight years ago.

The officials also had other various views on the Bill, including divorce, and dowry which many said should be a separate cultural aspect that should not be included in the legislation.

UN Great Lakes envoy Robinson to visit Rwanda

Robinson is expected in the country tomorrow. Net photo.
The newly-appointed United Nations envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa Mary Robinson is expected to arrive in Rwanda on Wednesday, UN officials have confirmed.

Robinson was appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month and she intends to embark on bolstering support for a recently agreed UN-mediated accord she has described as “a framework for hope” aimed at ending decades of conflict and instability in DR Congo.

In an e-mail to this paper, UN Resident Coordinator Lamin Manneh said Robinson is expected in Rwanda tomorrow and that she will meet government officials as well as representatives of international and local NGOs.

Her stop in Rwanda is part of a seven-day trip that will also take her to DR Congo, Uganda, Burundi, South Africa and Ethiopia.

Information from the UN Media department indicates that Robinson kicked off her Great Lakes tour from Kinshasa yesterday.

Currently, the UN Mission in DR Congo maintains close to 20,000 peacekeepers but they have been accused of maintaining a friendly relationship with top commanders of genocidal group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, whose members are largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Monusco has also previously been accused of sexually abusing Congolese women.

However, a key step in recent efforts by regional leaders was the adoption in February of the UN-brokered “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DR Congo and the region.”

A recent paper issued by Robinson’s office summarising the accord read; “This agreement represents an avenue of hope for the people of the region to build stability by addressing the root causes of the conflict and fostering trust between neighbours. Together, the governments and international organisations concerned, donors and peoples of the region can give hope of real change–of a true peace dividend–which provides peace, security and progress for all.”

Robinson plans to initiate discussions with leaders and officials from the region on how to translate the agreement into tangible actions and cooperation to end the recurrent cycles of crisis and suffering in eastern DR Congo.

Rwandatel assets now up for grabs

One of Rwandatels masts in Kigali. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
Telecom FIRM Rwandatel, which is under liquidation after the majority shareholder Lap Green of Libya failed to keep it afloat, is finally up for grabs.

The struggling telecom company has sold its masts to Airtel and remained with assets valued at less than $15 million that await sale “as soon as possible,” the caretaker has revealed.

Richard Mugisha, a lawyer in charge of administering Rwandatel and selling off its assets after a court decision placed the firm under liquidation in 2011, said Bharti Group acquired all the company’s masts at $15.5m last year.

Remaining assets

The lawyer said Rwandatel’s remaining assets include the liquidated company’s data and video infrastructure, a landline telephone service that is provided across the country, and portions of land, among other things.

But he said the remaining assets are of a lesser value compared to the

masts that Airtel acquired to boost its GSM network in the country.

“The biggest assets were the masts and they are gone,” Mugisha said during a recent interview with The New Times.

The revelation of a lesser value for the remaining assets implies that they could be acquired at less than $15 million (about Rwf9.5 billion).

How Rwandatel fell flat

The liquidation of Rwandatel was ordered after a Libyan government-affiliated company, LAP Green, which had acquired 80 per cent shares, had failed to salvage it from enormous debts and improve its services as it had been wished by the Rwandan government.

LAP Green had acquired the company in late 2007 after agreeing to pay $100 million to the Rwandan government and improve Rwandatel’s services in the country.

The company’s data and video infrastructure have been deemed attractive.

Promises that never came

Though Mugisha is not worried that the remaining assets will soon be sold to the competitive bidders, he also doesn’t talk about the appeal of the remaining assets without highlighting the potential of the “strong” data and video infrastructure owned by the company under liquidation.

“The future of telecommunication industry is in data, not voice,” he said. “As soon as we get someone with the financial muscle to invest in the business, it’s a good opportunity.”

At the acquisition of Rwandatel, representatives of LAP Green had promised to transform the loss-making and highly-indebted firm, which clearly remained with very few subscribers, into a competitive business.

They had also said they would use the company’s potential to position Rwanda as an ICT hub in the Great Lakes Region, where LAP Green already had a 69 per cent stake in Ugandan Telecommunications Limited by the time it decided to acquire Rwandatel.

Mugisha said Rwandatel’s copper and fibre optic cables are still valuable for an investor who would want to develop services to provide data and video, which he said are likely to lead over the provision of voice through GSM in the future.

Kagame tells global conference why Rwanda is thriving

President Paul Kagame chats with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) at an investment meet in Los Angeles, US, yesterday. The President addressed the 16th Milken Institute Global Conference on the opportunities for investment in Rwanda and Africa, explaining the initiatives that have led to a continuous increase in investment in Rwanda.
Kagame said it is about transparency, internal reforms, the rule of law, good governance and the opportunity that regional integration presents for investment. The conference, that started on Sunday, ends tomorrow. The New Times/ V. Urugwiro.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Greening program changes Gicumbi town

As part of the program to clean and renovate Gicumbi town, the administration and local people of Gicumbi district are busy planting trees and flowers, forming gardens in the whole of Gicumbi town in a program called greening.
Resident planting trees beside his home
Resident planting trees beside his home
Emmanuel Kayumba the health officer in this district says in this greening program, 700 araucaria trees, 2000 Jacaranda trees and 600 Spathodea trees…
These trees are planted on both sides of the main road in Gicumbi town starting from Ruyaga trading center up to Gicumbi stadium and also at the diocese of Byumba Catholic Church. The trees as well as passipalum grasses are being planted by the people that reside near this road.
Some of the ready gardens
Some of the ready gardens
 Kayumba goes on to say that these trees being planted are replacing the trees that have been in place that are dirtier and scattered in all parts of the town. The trees being planted will make the town more beautiful and tidier when they are grown.
In the program to make Gicumbi town clean and beautiful, the tarmac road through the town is being renovated and another road of stones is being built. Traders and the local residents are being called to put pavements and tiles in front of their shops and houses to make the town prettier.

New report warns UN on Congo

New report warns UN on CongoIncreased investment in non-military approaches is essential for a solution to the long-running conflict in eastern DR Congo, a new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) says.
The report, “Non-military strategies for civilian protection in the DRC,” written by Liam Mahony at Fieldview Solutions on commission from the NRC, warns against excessive faith in the new intervention brigade endorsed by the UN Security Council last month. It was launched last week.
“For nearly two decades, the international community has failed to protect civilians and to help bring peace to DR Congo. It is necessary to reflect on what we, as independent organisations and as a community, can do differently to better support the Congolese people to work towards peace and prosperity,” NRC’s Secretary-General Toril Brekke said in the report.
A new mandate for the UN’s peacekeeping operation in DR Congo, including authorising a special intervention brigade to target armed groups, is an unprecedented development in UN peacekeeping.
Brekke warns that any military approach will fail.
“Excessive faith in military approaches must be overcome. Military operations alone can’t bring much-needed durable solutions to the long-standing problems which have troubled the region and its people for decades,” says Brekke.
The international community, the report says, must focus on the deeper, uncomfortable issues that have defeated efforts to bring peace to eastern DR Congo.
“The Framework Agreement for a peace process signed in February was a step in the right direction, but it will require substantial political and financial capital to ensure results on the ground,” Brekke said.
Mahony argues that the international community needs to invest more in non-military solutions to protect the people of DR Congo.
“The international community continues to believe that military protection of civilians in DR Congo may succeed, if there are only enough soldiers, but there is no evidence for this. Faith in military solutions is exaggerated by the mistaken belief that violence can only be met with more violence,” said Mahony.
The report emphasises the need for increased investment in conflict mediation, among other ideals.
“Sustained mediation efforts is needed at regional, national and local levels. Also, more resources should be put into building a stronger civil society.”
Source :http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15342&a=66401

Is an offensive plausible in DR Congo?

EALA Speaker Zziwa, and MPs Mbidde and Makongor.
Is it necessary?  On March 28, the UNSC approved Resolution 2098 which authorised deployment of an intervention brigade which will target armed groups in eastern DR Congo.

A seemingly ominous looming move by Tanzania to contribute troops to a newly-formed UN Intervention Brigade, under the UN Mission in DR Congo, or Monusco, among others, is raising eyebrows within the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), even though few lawmakers in the bloc’s Assembly seem inclined to openly chastise the ‘mighty’ Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania.

On March 28, the UN Security Council approved Monusco’s new mandate. Changes, here, include deployment of an “intervention brigade,” or a special force of battalions, to be based in Goma, headquarters of the DR Congo’s North Kivu Province, to carry out offensive operations against armed groups and to neutralise and disarm them.

Numerous armed groups, including the M23 will, supposedly, be targeted. However, there are concerns that the brigade is a result of a dangerous misreading of conflict realities and could degenerate into a war with disastrous and unwarranted consequences for the region. This situation, it is feared, could suffocate the peace talks between Kinshasa and the M23 rebels in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

 There are also allegations that only the M23 is ‘prime target.’ Reports indicate that the M23 movement has asked Tanzania and South Africa to scrap plans to contribute troops to the 3,000-plus strong UN Brigade.

Some EALA lawmakers who spoke to The New Times on the sidelines of the just-concluded two-week EALA session in Kigali, expressed fear that the brigade would most likely wreck havoc than bring peace, and that, in the first place, it is not intended to bring peace.

MP Fred Mukasa Mbidde (Uganda), a member of EALA’s Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution, fears that only M23, which he says are “not criminals” compared to the FDLR–remnants of the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi–will be singled out.

Mbidde’s other worry is that Tanzania, an EAC partner state, is moving away from a unanimous accord to support the ongoing dialogue between the M23 and Kinshasa, as the only viable way for sustainable peace.

Mbidde says there is a misconception on matters to do with eastern DR Congo. This is partly because the protagonists–the UN, “the pen holders France” and others, are outside actors.

“The misconception is either intended or unintended, but there is a lack of awareness by the actors in terms of what is happening on the ground in eastern DRC and it has resulted in many wrong decisions,” Mbidde said, adding, “If they are aware, then it is a concerted effort to annihilate the people of eastern DR Congo, which is not acceptable.

“We have a humanitarian question that must be addressed,” the lawmaker adds, pointing to the FDLR, who he says “continued with a genocide campaign against the Tutsi communities in DR Congo.

“There is currently no difference between the FDLR and the army of DR Congo. Their operations are intended, one, to annihilate the Tutsi there who are indigenous DRC citizens. Secondly, FDLR still has a plan to return to Rwanda and complete their genocidal agenda.”

Giving FDLR a highway to Rwanda 

In effect, what the UN Brigade will become, Mbidde warns, is “a raw material” for the FDLR which wishes “to orchestrate genocide” because the group’s aspirations had started to diminish but they lately got a new lifeline.

“Congo does not have a substantive army. The brigade will either be reinforcing FDLR or creating a safe haven for FDLR, and in fact, thereby establishing a highway for the FDLR to Rwanda,” he argued.

A December 2012 resolution of EALA on the security situation in eastern DR Congo and EAC neighbours, proposed by Mbidde and MP Christophe Bazivamo (Rwanda), welcomed initiatives and resolutions of the Heads of State and Governments of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on the security situation in eastern DRC, at their three summits in Kampala.

The resolution also reiterated the importance of regional dialogues to find lasting solutions to the crisis and urged EAC partner states, the DRC and the international community to deepen their analysis of the root causes of the volatile situation in DR Congo for sustainable solutions to peace and security in the EAC region.

Tanzanian MP Charles Makongoro Nyerere shares Mbidde’s sentiments on the latest developments.

Nyerere said when the Dodoma government mooted the idea, Parliament thought it was about peacekeeping, not offensive operations.

“If this happens that way, these UN Force will be seen by the people as an occupation Force–and these guys [M23] are going to have a sympathy with the people who have been affected by criminals and it is going to be a disaster! It is going to be a disaster because these rebels will be given food and assistance.” 

Tanzania is obliged to follow that EALA resolution and I continue to urge the Government of the Republic of Tanzania to revisit its decision, Mbidde said.

“Secondly, all those that are in favour of the brigade should rethink and consider putting such a decision in abeyance because it is not intended to bring peace. It’s chaotic; it’s a recipe for war. 

“Three, there is a volatile humanitarian situation between DRC, Rwanda and Uganda in terms of refugees. We are still administering staggering economies that would want all human beings to be termed as labour and not consumers in refugee camps.”

In certain terms, international actors should be told to give a chance for homegrown solutions to problems facing Africans. The M23 are “not a group of drama actors” and, they are definitely going to defend themselves and that will cause unwarranted deaths, the legislator said.

He also said the civil society in DR Congo want the peace talks to continue.

M23 not similar to FDLR
Mbidde argues that there is a deliberate ploy to create a similar description of M23 and other militia such as the FDLR. He contends that M23 should be looked at differently.

“M23 are persons who have originally had agreements with Kinshasa. No government signs agreements with criminals. These are partners. Those agreements have been breached. The M23 are substantially a different force that can’t be the equated to FDLR. In fact, you cannot have a uniform solution to this. M23 are part of the DRC. FDLR are part of the criminals that left Rwanda after perpetrating a genocide.”

 Mbidde stressed that the problem is that issues of eastern DRC and Genocide have not been given “the due public relations requirement” that they deserve but handed over to external actors, and “spin doctors” who instead, malign the ideology of Genocide.

“The same thing applies to M23. Their voices are not heard. In fact, we’ll propose a substantial international conference for them to be heard. These are not bandits,” he said.

Mbidde said the M23 are aggrieved intellectuals that includes a legislator, Roger Lumbala, a former representative of the Rally of Congolese Democrats and Nationalists in the DR Congo parliament, who quit to join the M23 and is now one of their lead negotiators in the Kampala talks.

Tanzanian lawmaker: Crazy strategy, no God’s blessing

MP Charles Makongoro Nyerere (Tanzania) said he knew of his countrymen’s imminent deployment, but was not aware that they would engage in what he now calls a “wrong strategy” for peace, or better still, a move that “will never be blessed by God.”

“Let me be frank and honest here; I didn’t know that they are going to fight rebels. If this is it, I think the strategy is wrong,” Nyerere, a former army officer, said, appearing bewildered by the notion that his compatriots  would be deployed to fight M23 and protect Congolese government soldiers, who he is convinced are raping people.

“It is a wrong move! This move will never be blessed by God. If the [DRC] soldiers admit to the atrocities they committed, why is the UN not taking them to an international tribunal rather than bring in a brigade to fight the wrong people? This is crazy!”

The MP said the Kinshasa-M23 Kampala talks was the right approach. He also believes Western corporations are fueling the myriad of conflicts in DR Congo and that the vast resource-rich country’s problems have nothing to do with Rwanda as UN alleged.

“Big western companies fuel the conflict as they maintain ties with the militia in the region. The problems of Congo have been there for more than 80 years and, one could say that the biggest founder of these problems are the Belgians. But the Belgians are no longer there. It is big European and American companies that are there.”

EALA Speaker: We should address root causes instead

EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa said because DR  Congo is outside EAC, it becomes a bit difficult for the regional parliament to get directly involved beyond the EAC borders.

But one of the things the bloc’s legislative organ has done is supporting the ICGLR peace process, she said.

“We have actually extended our solid support to the measures they have taken to make sure that conflicts in DRC subside,” Zziwa said. “It is one thing to suppress the conflict but if you don’t deal with causes, then you are not sure that they will not recur or manifest, either in another area or another form.”

The Speaker, like other EALA members, is firm on the House’s support of a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

 MP Nancy Lung’ahi (Kenya) said there is need to look at the root causes of what makes people rise up against their governments.

“Those people who are being referred to as rebels, aren’t they also human beings? Don’t they also have rights? Have they been heard?” Lung’ahi asked, pointing to how the Kenyan government has managed the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), a separatist organisation at the coastal town of Mombasa.

 “They [MRC] wanted to secede and said Kenya is a republic without the coastal region. But I think they were just reacting because they wanted to be heard. They had concerns. But was it enough for government to send people to go and beat them up? The government sent delegations of people to go and talk to them, find out their concerns and find out how these problems can be addressed. I think that is where we need to go. We need to find peaceful solutions and not create opportunity for war.

“We don’t want it to turn out like Somalia. I think war, and fighting, is never a solution. And it will never be a solution. If you are sending peace missions, it is different from going to reinforce the war.”

She said it would be more feasible for the region to take a stand and see how they can bring the warring factions together and resolve the conflict amicably.

Lung’ahi said military confrontation will only worsen the humanitarian situation in eastern DR Congo.

DR Congo debacle fuelled by Western interests

The new intervention brigade of about 3,069 troops with troops from Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa likely to form its bulk, is expected to be deployed by June or July. Under command of a Tanzanian general, it will operate within the existing 20,000 strong Monusco operation, which, despite being one of the UN's largest and most costly peacekeeping forces, has for long failed to address the conflict.

The brigade raises suspicions of hidden social, political and economic agendas.Energy-strapped South Africa is intent on accessing around 2,600 megawatts of power from the Inga Dam hydro-electric projects, among others, according to reports. 

From the plunder of its rubber and ivory by Belgium’s King Leopold II to the West’s Cold War relationship with Mobutu Sese Seko, the history of DRC is largely a tale of abuse by Western powers.

For example, in October 2002, UN experts accused more than 80 OECD-based companies of violating the guidelines for their direct or indirect roles in the illegal exploitation of natural resources in DRC. It was claimed that elite networks of political and military elites and businesspersons fuelled the conflict in order to retain their control over the country’s vast natural resources.

Belgian sociologist Ludo de Witte, in his book, The Assassination of Lumumba, provided evidence that Western interests in the Cold War and Belgian resentment condemned the DRC’s first premier, Patrice Lumumba, to death.

On September 19, 1961, a plane flying UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld to Ndola, Zambia, for peace talks with the Katanga leaders was shot down, raising suspicion that he was assassinated to  curtail his decolonisation efforts as well as maintain Western interest in African riches.

Govt’s monthly stipends to the poor making the difference

Rusanganwa harvests tomatoes in the greenhouse funded by VUP programme. The New Times/ Jean de la Croix Tabaro
Justin Rusanganwa, 63, one of the beneficiaries of the Vision 2020’s Umurenge Programme (VUP) gets Rwf7,500 per month, of which he takes home Rwf4,500, and saves the balance with Sacco.

“I was poor indeed! If you look at me however, you can now see that VUP is blameless; we learnt to be self reliant here and are no longer amongst the needy people,” said Rusanganwa.

He is one of the VUP beneficiaries in Gikomero sector, Gasabo district, where the programme was introduced last year.

VUP was set up six years ago to help reduce poverty levels in Rwanda.

The beneficiaries include the elderly, those living with disabilities, children, female headed households, Genocide survivors, and the historically marginalised.

The most vulnerable who don’t qualify for small business loans are given a monthly stipend of between Rwf7,500 and Rwf21,000 depending on the size of their households.

One hundred and eighty members fall under this category of direct support in Gikomero sector.

Other members who benefit from a loan scheme are encouraged to work in groups of between 10 and 12 households to qualify for about Rwf5m and Rwf7m credit payable in two years.

A household can get at least Rwf80,000 worth of credit.

Since January this year, over Rwf1b was given out in loans countrywide.

In the third component, the poor energetic residents are employed in public works such as road maintenance, agriculture, construction, etc. where they get daily wages of between Rwf1,500 to Rwf2,000 to support their households.

At least 180 beneficiaries in Gikomero sector are saving 40 per cent of their monthly stipend.

Rusanganwa said at the beginning, they used the money to buy basic needs. But now they can save some money from their living allowance.

“I no longer mind about food; with this grant, I hire a casual worker for my farm. My production of Irish potatoes has more than trebled in the last three years. Since this project is bearing fruits, direct aid is something we won’t be eligible for in the near future,” he said, adding that he is now able to pay Rwf50,000 in schools fees for his two grandchildren. 

Legitimate commitment

With a gross sum of Rwf2m they were paid every month last year, Rusanganwa’s group saved more than Rwf800,000 per month.

In August, VUP managers designed a project of green house for the group.

Up to Rwf6.5m from their savings helped them fund a green house project for tomatoes growing. They are now harvesting and have recovered Rwf 4m. More than Rwf9m is expected at the end of the season. A greenhouse serves for six years.

Last year, Rusanganwa’s 34 village mates acquired a loan of Rwf1.5m to also start their green house project.

“Our field teams are doing a great job by helping beneficiaries to understand that their allowances afford more than foodstuff,” said Enatha Mukayizera, the in charge of VUP in Gasabo district, adding that cultivating a savings culture among the people was initially a challenge.

Justin Gatsinzi, the deputy director-general of social protection in Rwanda Local Development Support Fund (RLDSF), said they are yet to register the number of graduates from one category to another nationwide, but reports from 180 sectors covered by VUP indicated great progress.

According to statistics from Gatsinzi’s office, VUP direct support increased to more than Rwf1 billion in March from Rwf400m in early 2009. It started in 30 sectors across the country, supporting around 6,000 households.

The coverage was increased to 180 sectors with more than 40,000 households benefiting by March.

Pig project to finance a vehicle
In the loan scheme category, 90 women working in five groups from Gikomero sector applied for a loan of Rwf7m last year. They bought five pigs, which, in seven months have multiplied to 38.

Veterinary officials say one pig can deliver up to three times a year, producing up to 10 piglets at a time.

“We have a ready market where we shall be selling at the end of the year. A 150-kilogramme pig cost about Rwf200,000 and we are sure we will buy a vehicle worth Rwf8m for our business next year,” said Alphonsine Mukakinani, 40, who joined VUP in 2011.

Prof. Herman Musahara, an expert in development studies at the National University of Rwanda, said social protection is an important asset in addressing community disparity.

“If there were no programmes like VUP, some people would not enjoy the dividends of the country’s rapid growth,” Prof. Musahara said. “Cash transfer to the very poor is well spent when it is linked to a specific programme like health, education and the VUP programme.”

Referring to success stories in social protection strategies Southern African countries, Musahara says success lies in thinking beyond a direct support to sustainable way out of poverty.

Emerging from poverty to self-reliance in Rwanda is included in government’s 10-year social protection programme that was unveiled in 2011.

But the Director-General of Community Development and Social Welfare in the Ministry of Local Government, Francine Tumushime, admits there are challenges like delays in cash transfer, small coverage due to insufficient funds and duplication of services at some point.

Tumushime said the challenges are handled in joint sector review and the sector working group meetings.

President Kiir salutes Rwanda, South Sudan Police Forces ties

IGP Gasana (L) and Gen. Pieng Deng address the media at Juba State House after meeting President Kiir. The New Times/ Courtesy.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has commended the support rendered by Rwanda National Police (RNP) in building the capacity of the South Sudan National Police Services.

President Kiir said this last week at the State House in Juba, where he hosted Rwanda’s Inspector-General of Police, Emmanuel K. Gasana.

IGP Gasana was in South Sudan for a two-day visit on the invitation of his counterpart, Gen. Pieng Deng Kuol, to further strengthen ties between the two forces following the signing of cooperation agreement in May last year.

President Kiir pledged full support to the partnership for the good of communities in the two sister countries.

The agreement binds the two forces in combating cross-border crimes and capacity, building, especially in training that focuses mainly on road safety, basic and advanced investigation, basic intelligence, IT and communication skills, public order management, among others.

In a statement, a copy of which this paper has seen, Lt. Gen. Salva Mathok, South Sudan deputy minister of interior, stressed that the cooperation is paramount in professionalising their Force, which is mainly composed of former soldiers and militia groups.

“Training is the backbone of Police professionalism,” Gen. Mathok said.

South Sudan Police chief Gen. Deng said the cooperation between the two Police Forces has proved a note in building the capacity of his Force.

Worth emulating

Gen. Deng said his force still faces some challenges such as lack of skilled personnel to deal with emerging threats. He said Rwanda’s success in reconciliation, poverty eradication and peacekeeping is a lesson to many.

IGP Gasana, who said the two countries have had bad history, applauded the level of development in South Sudan and pledged the RNP support and exchange of best practices to build a professional force.

“It is about time we work together to help each other in fighting emerging crimes that affect our countries,” Gasana said.

Development, IGP Gasana said, comes with sophisticated security threats which require joint efforts to challenge wrong-doers.

“We need to join forces with regional partners to improve policing architecture. There are many emerging crimes that require us to join hands to pursue collective security in ideas, capacities, and skills in order to be ready for this challenging situation,” Gasana added.

He also said the RNP will organise a special training programme for Police senior leadership.

Gasana also paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Police Commissioner of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Johannah Madikotsi Nkomo, and met with the Rwandan police peacekeepers serving under UNMISS.

He told the peacekeepers not to deviate from their mission and urged them to learn from other peacekeepers so to share skills when they return home.

African MPs want transparency in land deals

Speaker of Parliament Rose Mukantabana (R) chats with Pan-African Parliament vice president Juliana Kantengwa at the closing ceremony of a continental parliamentary session on land and agriculture in Kigali on Saturday. African lawmakers resolved to strengthen existing laws at national and regional level to prevent fraudulent land deals on the continent. New Times/ John Mbanda.
African lawmakers have resolved to strengthen existing laws at the national and regional level to prevent fraudulent land deals on the continent.

This was one of the resolutions announced on Saturday at the end of a two-day workshop organised by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), in Kigali.

Held under the theme: “Making Agricultural Investment Work for Africa: A Parliamentarian’s response to the land rush,” the meeting was also attended by MPs from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community.

“We commit to work towards transparency of all investment contracts and treaties, whether by local or foreign investors, by making them available to the public in a timely manner,” MP Isabelle Ndahayo (Burundi), the Chairperson of the EALA’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, said.

“We commit to mobilise public opinion and governments on the question of land grabs and raise awareness among citizens through public campaigns and special parliamentary debates.”

They vowed to adopt new laws that are appropriate and adapted to all aspects of investment in agricultural land, water and related natural resources; and advocate at national and international level, with a view to mobilising resources to promote agriculture in Africa.

In addition, participants committed to advocate for the creation of a network of parliamentarians on governance of investment and land issues, under the auspices of the PAP, EALA, Ecowas and other continental parliamentary bodies.

According to the resolutions, a joint Committee of Parliamentarians and Development Partners will be formed to monitor the implementation of investment policies and laws on lands.

The meeting called upon the AU and other African regional institutions and organisations to ensure that investments in agriculture work for African peoples.

Requests to governments

The legislators also called on governments to improve transparency in the process of acquiring and distributing arable land.

They also challenged member states of the African Union, signatories of the 2003 Maputo Declaration on agriculture and food security in Africa, and the AU Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa, to honour their commitments.

The Maputo Declaration requires countries to allocate at least 10 per cent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years.

In addition, the MPs want AU members to develop and implement land use master plan to guide investments; and implement legislation on direct foreign and local investments relating to land, water and other natural resources.

This, they said, would guarantee the benefits of the investment to the African peoples and for sustainable development.

Ndahayo said there is need for legally binding and enforceable obligation for the investor to contribute to the local economy and the well-being of society.

This would lead to poverty reduction, improvement of food security, protection of the environment, and increase in employment, she added.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

INES commemorates Genocide

Students and staff of Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur de Ruhengeri (INES) accompanied by friends and relatives on Friday commemorated the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
As the commemoration period goes on in many areas of the country to remember the 100-day slaughter that killed more than a million Rwandans, hundreds of mourners at INES marched towards Muhoza Genocide Memorial site before they gathered on the institute’s campus where they lit candles and a bonfire.
Addressing mourners, the Minister of education, Dr Vincent Biruta, told the students to keep commemorating while they strive to renew a sense of purpose to build a brighter future.
“Rwandans had lived a bad life of discrimination and torture but they kept eager to struggle for their country until they liberated themselves. It is now time to build it and you the youth are the ones to shape the future,” he said.
The minister encouraged the students to study hard, reminding them that they are the leaders of tomorrow.
“We can’t afford to be captives of sorrow because of what happened, we must strive to relieve ourselves from that sadness. We must teach children about the history of the Genocide and how to avoid it,” he urged. Other officials at the event also urged the youth to build on what is already there to prepare their future. The Rector of INES, Dr Déogratias Niyibizi, reminded students who survived the Genocide to always be strong and study hard to ensure that they are self-reliant in future.
“We are supposed to help genocide survivors and our students should feel free since we work as a family. But you need to work hard for the past to remain behind and ensure that your present and future are bright,” he said.
He pledged that INES will support the students in various activities as long as they inform the  administration, which will also continue to organise Genocide commemorations in collaboration with its staff and students.
One of the students, Robert Kaberuka, shared his experience in the Genocide and how he lost members of his family and had to survive by hiding in the bush where food was rare that he once had to help himself on food brought by a dog on the run.
“I was hiding during the entire Genocide period. I suffered from hunger and couldn’t find anything to eat. Fortunately and surprisingly the dog used to bring me something to eat for more than two weeks,” he testified.

The life of a woman mechanic

Aloysie Benimana (Mama Gatoya) repairing a motorbike.
With some mechanical knowledge she learnt from her husband, she is earning between 3000 and 5000 Rwandan francs per day by repairing motorcycles and she is proud that she contributes to her family and doesn’t have to rely on her husband to survive.
Aloysie Benimana, known as Mama Gatoya in Muyumbu Sector of Rwamagana District in the Eastern Province, is a 31-year-old mother of three children who attracted a lot of criticism from fellow women when she was learning from her husband how to repair motorcycles.
But while comparing the time back when she didn’t have a profession with today when she provides motor repair services in partnership with her husband, she lauds her chosen attitude of taking on jobs that were previously left for men.
Together with her husband, they managed to build a house in Muyumbu where they live and their family.
“It is the first high earning profession I have ever done in my life. It has eased my life and the benefit is totally different from what I earned from my former profession of farming,” Benimana said, also revealing that her dream now is to become a car driver.
She started her motorcycle repair career eight years ago when her and husband arrived in Kigali from Rutongo in Rulindo District of the Northern Province where they hail from.
While she started the career at a location nearby the offices of the Rwanda Development Board in Gishushu, she is now operating from Rugende fuel station in Rusororo Sector of Gasabo District.
“When we arrived in Kigali my husband was used to working alone as he was a motorcycle technician. I had to stay at home till he decided to teach me the profession that totally changed our life,” she said.
Warning fellow women
Many motorists from the area where Benimana operates said that her work is not different from that of men.
Her message for fellow women is to never reject any work saying it is not for their kind because they are able to do the same job as men.
“From my experience I realized that all jobs belong to both men and women,” she said.
In the past, Rwandans used to separate jobs whereby women would stay at home looking after children and doing domestic works and would depend on their husbands for cash because the latter were the ones to perform income generating activities.

Serena donates to Genocide survivors

Serena Hotel Country Manager, Charles Muia (L), hands a cheque to the President of Abahumurizanya Association David Tuganimana (C) and CNLG's Gaspard Gasasira yesterday.
Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi have been called on to work hard and improve their lives as one of the ways towards a bright future.
The call was made yesterday by the Country Manager of Kigali Serena Hotel, Charles Muia, during a visit of hotel employees to Abahumurizanya Association of vulnerable children in Kimironko Sector in Kigali’s Gasabo District.
“As Serena Hotel, we are much aware of the hardship and responsibilities that you hold in taking care of yourselves and other children. That’s why we decided to spend some time with you during this commemoration period,” Muia said.
Most of the children making up the association told The New Times that they lost their parents and relatives during the tragedy. Muia advised members of the association to use the available opportunities to transform their lives and that of others.
During the visit, the hotel donated items worth Rwf 2 million. They included bed sheets, clothes, shoes and blankets among others. They also handed over a cheque of Rwf 1.3 million to the association.    
Muia reminded members of the association that they do not only hold their future, but are also expected to contribute to the development of their country. He also called on the public to support the survivors in any way they can to enable them stand on their feet. Kigali Serena Hotel has so far supported nine of the association members to have an education and has employed them. The association’s president, David Tuganimana, appreciated the efforts done by the hotel staff saying that their support will bridge many gaps.
“For the last five years, Kigali Serena has been supporting us and we are indeed grateful because their support has paid off in many ways including some of us getting the chance to have an education,” he said.
The association has more than 40 members and the government gave them houses they stay in.

KCC to improve urban health

Mothers at a health facility in Kicukiro District; Kigali City has laid strategies to improve access of the urban population to quality health services.
In a bid to improve urban health, Kigali City Council (KCC) in collaboration with the Belgian Technical cooperation (BTC) has laid strategies to improve access of the urban population to quality health services.
The strategies include improving efficiency in the management of existing infrastructure such as health centres and hospitals through proper coordination of their activities and proper management of referrals from one level to another.
KCC and BTC also have a plan to increase the capacity of service providers by training practicing doctors, nurses and other health professionals and investing in equipment and building new health facilities to cater for ever increasing population and geographical extension of the City.
The Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs at KCC, Hope Tumukunde, said the council has established a support program for health development that is specifically dedicated to addressing specific health issues of an urban setting.
“We have achieved a lot that we have to capitalize on to respond to health and environmental challenges related to the growth of our City.  If you look at health infrastructure, equipment, improved coordination; these are the best we can have in this country,” she said. “Given the specific realities of the capital City, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have medicalised health centres.”
Medicalising health centres means the provision of a medical doctor for a health centre, either permanently or on temporary basis.  With the provision of medical doctors, the minimum package of services provided at the health centre level will be improved. 
Tumukunde added that the city has a health development strategic plan that helps streamline all interventions to respond to increasing demands for health services.
Plans are also under way to extend services to city residents through construction of new health facilities such as new health centres in Mageragere, Remera, Kanyinya and Gatenga.
The health centres have the capacity to serve more than 10 percent of the current urban population, the official said.
Besides adequate equipment, the new health facilities will be provided with medical doctors and some hospital level professionals to enable them provide better services to communities.
The health centres will also be funded by Belgium and will serve more than 10 percent of the population of Kigali City. The demographic annual growth rate of the City of Kigali is estimated at 4 percent.
Tumukunde said that efforts will also doubled in sensitizing communities to prevent diseases through maintaining proper hygiene.
Kigali City population is expected to double by 2020, close to two million inhabitants according to forecasts. This growth goes with increasing demand for basic health services but also puts unrelenting pressure on the environment.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) advises that one health centre should serve 20,000 inhabitants, each of the existing health centres in Rwanda serves more than 40,000.
With the support of BTC, the City Council has developed a comprehensive framework for a better planning of appropriate responses to increasing demand for health services.
The achievements of the 4-year program to which Belgium contributed Rwf 13 billion include the construction and equipment of the four new health centres of Gatenga, Mageragere, Kanyinya, and Remera.

Bugesera: Sunflowers in Rwanda, conditions for their thriving

Sunflowers thrive during hot and dry climate and their roots can get water from the long distance even watering them twice to four times In a year is enough for them to grow very well.
This was said by Jean de Dieu Nkinzingabo the agronomist of Bugesera district advising sunflower growers for the good and productive harvest of sunflower.
Bugesera: Sunflowers in Rwanda, conditions for their thriving“The Sunflower plant needs little Azote minerals compared to crops like maize. However, a farmer should prepare enough fertilizers in the soil though sunflowers need deep soil more than they need fertilizers” the agronomist explained.
The sunflower plant does not have many animals or insects that can destroy it except for birds that like its flowers though it is also affected by some diseases that can be controlled. It is good for sunflowers to be grown in April or May and harvested in august.
“The sunflower plant has a strong stem that is in 3 meters long. Its flowers are circular that are about 30 centimeters. Its seeds are covered with small leaves in order that are yellow in colour.”
“The flower of a blossoming sunflower changes its direction depending on the direction of the sun. Cells of the sunflower in shades are more productive that those in the sun as the stem bends towards the sun” explains the agronomist.
According to Wikipedia, sunflowers are from the western part of the Northern America, west of Canada and northern Mexico. The research done in 2010 shows that sunflowers were first found in the west Patagonia and it has been around for the last 500 years.

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