New partnership deal to boost sunflower, soya beans farming

NEWTIMES.CO.RW: An edible seed processing factory in Kayonza, Soycom is set to sign a memorandum of understanding with local farmers to promote the growing of sunflower, soy beans and groundnuts. This, according to government, would be a great opportunity for the farmers as such a relationship would generate more income for them.

The development was announced yesterday during a meeting that brought together farmers cooperatives, officials from the company and the Ministries of Agriculture, and Trade and Industry in Rwamagana. According to Mt. Soycom chief executive Nick Barige, some cooperatives have reserved hectares of farm land for the crop. He said the processing firm would pay local farmers competitive prices for the input to address challenges of inadequate raw materials as about 95 per cent was imported from Uganda, DR Congo and Tanzania:

Soycom has had several meetings with the stakeholders trying to agree on the way forward. We need at least 25,000 tonnes per year to make 40 per cent production. If we got 50,000 tonnes per year, we would increase production to 80 per cent, which is our target. We have capacity to buy all the produce.

The firm plans to offer good prices to local farmers, who will supply them with raw material. For instance, it will offer Rwf450 per kilogramme as opposed to Rwf400 per kilogramme they give for imported soy beans, Barige said.

François Kanimba, the minister for trade and industry, asked Soycom officials to be considerate to the needs of of soya growers alongside their own benefit. He said the deal would be fair to farmers as a market was already available and offered a competitive price:

We are helping the two parties to strike a deal, so it must be win-win situation. Farmers must grow more soya beans to feed the factory, but the factory must also think about how residents can benefit from it.

The Soycom plant, which started processing in July, is expected to cut on the countrys importation of edible oil.

Elia Nsanzumuhire, a leader of a youth cooperative for soya beans in Kayonza District, said they would give it a chance, especially because of the ready market and increased prices:

All we need to do is to assess the interest on loans we shall get after firm negotiates with banks on our behalf. Otherwise, the price is good and the assurance of market is added advantage we cant afford to miss.

Odette Uwamariya, the governor of Eastern Province, said with the major demand for soya beans, farmers in the province should play their part to satisfy the demand.

Read the original article by Stephen Rwembeho on The New Times.

National Dialogue: What the Ni Nyampinga girls would ask?

Rwandans are preparing for the annual National Dialogue, ‘Umushyikirano,’ which will take place in Kigali on December 18th to 19th 2014. The National Dialogue, which is chaired by His Excellency the President of Rwanda, is now in its twelfth year and it provides an opportunity for Rwandans both in Rwanda and in the Diaspora to pose questions to the leadership of the country at a national level. This is one of the most exciting events of the year because nowhere else in the world do citizens have direct access to their leadership, let alone their head of state.

Each year, the National Dialogue strives to be as inclusive as possible in order to incorporate the diverse thoughts, opinions, and experiences of Rwandans around the country. According to Hon. Venetia Twagirayezu, the Minister in the President’s Office, 1,000 Rwandans will be in attendance at the National Parliament, where the event is being held, while 2,000 young people will tune in from Petit Stade in Remera as part of the annual Youth Connekt convention. Video conferencing will be employed to include at least two communities based upcountry.

Under the general “Common Vision, New Momentum”, two sub-themes will be explored: “Family: A Foundation for National Prosperity” and “Safeguarding Our Achievements for a Better Future.” Rwandans from all across the world will be able to follow the event on television, radio, online. They will also have the opportunity to submit inquires through Facebook, Twitter, calls, emails and SMS.

During the MDG Special Event at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, President Kagame emphasized the importance of investing in girls. Throughout the year, Ni Nyampinga has interacted with numerous girls from the most vulnerable to the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders of our society. Through these interactions, we have realized the importance of having girls’ voices added to the national dialogue. It is beneficial not only to girls, but to the leadership of the country. To this end, we have three questions that we would love to have addressed at this year’s Umushyikirano:

Benigne Mugwaneza: What is the government doing to empower and assist young girls with access to finance for their business projects, especially after gaining vocational skills?

Sarah Duhimbaze: What is the role of government in girls self-reliance?

Ritha Marie Clarisse Ubumwe: With regard to human trafficking, there is particularly a concern for trafficking of girls, most girls and women are trafficked because of poverty, ignorance and influence by others promising them better jobs abroad.
Is there a way the authorities can have a toll free line in a bid to address this problem? A line where the public can report any issues, this way creating further awareness and ensuring that those guilty of human trafficking crimes are brought to justice.

40 African Nations represented at Moscow Festival

The annual, two-day festival is the Moscows biggest celebration of Africa.

THEMOSCOWTIMES.COM: Africans representing 40 countries are expected to come together for Moscows Afrofest 2014 event,  an annual celebration of the continents food, films, games and dancing, at the Bauman Garden on Saturday and Sunday.

Russians dont know what Africa [culture] is, said Serge Phocas Odunlami, president of the House of Africa organisation that is hosting the festival. He said he hoped that the occasion would serve as a bridge between Russian and African cultures.

One exciting aspect of the festival is a rich programme of master classes that include traditional dance such as the romantic Kizomba and spirited Kuduro, both of which originated in the Southern African country of Angola.

Visitors can try traditional food from many different countries and watch a series of documentaries and films about the continent. Anyone can also take part in the popular African strategy game Awale, one of the oldest of its kind, in which players sit around a board and attempt to capture as many of each others seeds as possible.

Visitors will also be treated to a fashion show with African designers and a performance of traditional songs and dances by the Cac Oshala troupe from the West African country of Benin.

Rwanda in $9 million border upgrade

Rwanda has received $9 million from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, for upgrading the Rubavu post along the border with the Democratic Republic Congo.

Work will take the next 18 months. Rubavu will then meet the required standards of a proper functional border post and reduce the overall transit time for cargo and passengers while easing trade and commerce. Christian Rwakunda said while launching the ground breaking ceremony to mark the commencement of the border post upgrade at former La Croniche border post referred to us as Grande Barrierein Rubavu district, Western province last week:

This border post will significantly enhance mobility of people and goods from both countries which will promote cross border trade and therefore intensify regional economic growth through the promotion of market integration, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure.

It will again increase peace and security since when people trade together there’s more peace than fighting, plus it will increase revenue for Rwanda because of more trade that will be created at the border post.

The border post upgrade will be in line with the Rubavu District master plan and that of other border posts.

This project will cover the construction of the borders post facilities, which include the main building to accommodate all services, passenger car parking and handling facilities, warehouses as well as heavy truck transit parking.

This is aimed at improving border crossing efficiency and cut down unnecessary costs which are due to duplication of operations.

“This is kind of a dream to see both sides (Rwanda and DRC) sitting together with one purpose and one goal,” Howard Buffet said.

He said “We believe this is one opportunity to work together with many more to come up”.

“This means much better environment for trade and commerce for the two countries and people will be able to work together freely and easily which will help achieve big goals together,” Buffet said.

Buffet recognized the great progress made on the side of Rwanda which is because of the support provided by the Rwandan government.

Rwanda and DRC trade both agricultural and livestock products.

This is why the Rwandan government aims at increasing working hours at the border post to 24hours which will promote doing business for the Rwandan business community at the post hence help the country develop.

The Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) shall be the implementing agency on behalf of the GoR. It shall closely follow up implementation of the project together with the Howard Buffet foundation which is the main financier.

The Howard Buffet foundation looks at funding future border posts including the one in the north with Uganda.

The existing facilities at la Corniche border post between Rubavu in Rwanda and Goma in DRC has become archaic which called for an upgrade to reduce the overall transit time for cargo and passengers.

4G LTE launched in Rwanda

4G LTE launched in RwandaRwanda has become the latest African country to join the 4G LTE network following the launch of the service in Kigali the countrys capital.

Rwandas Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said that the rollout of 4G LTE will speed up national development goals by speeding up ICT based services as well as creating jobs and proving new opportunities to deliver better services nationwide.

This launch enables people to accomplish their dreams and new ideas will blossom. The launch of 4G LTE is one of many activities that our Government is putting in place so as to achieve a middle class knowledge based economy targets by 2020, the minister said.

He also reiterated governments continual support for ICT literacy to make the service to impact the lives of Rwandans.

Patrick Nyirishema, the director-general of Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) added

It is a new addition to the ecosystem, whatever benefits citizens were receiving due to ICT development in the country, will now increase in terms of speed and efficiency, Nyirishema said.

We are increasing accessibility and Internet speed, we are making it easier for people to do business and have impact on fellow citizens.

$68m energy project gives 50,000 Rwandan households first taste of electricity

The Eastern Province of Rwanda has seen 50,000 of its households connected to the national electric grid for the first time following the successful implementation of a four year $68 million energy project by the Rwanda Energy Group in partnership with a number of private firms.

This was disclosed during a validation workshop themed around the socio-economic impact of the electrification project where special reports on the impact of the project were received and discussed. Benefits, according to Epimak Rutingama, were mostly in the areas of income generation, health and education.

The survey showed that users of electricity were considerably better off than the non-users with regard to their socio-economic status and living conditions. Socio-economic status and living conditions of household heads as measured by different variables appear to be strongly associated with using electricity which resulted in a greater level of satisfaction with their life situation.

Provincial Governor Odette Uwamariya admitted that the project had doubled electrification levels in her province from 11% to 22% thus allowing trading centers to upgrade and decentralize public services. In her words; “Schools, health centers, Saccos (credit and savings cooperatives) benefitted. We can now go beyond just home lighting to starting agro-based industries.”

Also, and more in line with Governor Uwamariya’s comments, modern energy use may enable the poor in developing countries to engage in new or improved income generating activities eventually leading to an improvement of their living conditions. This is a productive use of energy, not merely a consumptive one. Lastly, exclusion from modern energy might be a direct indicator of poverty.

Isaano Arts Festival aims to promote Rwandas art industry

The Isaano Arts Festival started Sunday, 15 February 2015 with a mission to help promote Rwandas artistic industry.

Until Saturday, 21 February 2015, people from all walks of life are invited to join activities taking place at Petit Stade in Remera everyday, from 4 to 10PM.

The festival features activities that include a fine-art exhibition, art workshops and workshops, a literary gathering, and more.

International artists, including Tiken Jah Fakoly, Habib Koite, Thias Diarra and Cissoko Noumoucounda, will also be performing throughout the week.

The Isaano Art Festival is an annual event organised by Positive Production.

Meet in Remarkable Rwanda’ Campaign launched in India

Highlighting the opportunities for business offered to companies, trade associations, and social organisations in the African country, the ‘Meet in Remarkable Rwanda’ Campaign was launched by the Rwanda High Commission at the ‘Automation Exhibition 2014’ held in Mumbai.

The Campaign was launched by Joseph Kabakeza, First Counselor and Deputy Head of Mission, Rwanda High Commission, New Delhi. Joining Rwandan representatives were Clarence Fernandes, a representative in India for the Rwanda Development Board, and visitors from Singapore, Italy, China, Hong Kong, Germany, Sweden, and France.

The Rwandan booth at the Exhibition highlighted the various opportunities for trade, tourism, and investments in the country. The upcoming Rwanda Convention Bureau was also showcased along with the additional inventory of rooms in the five-star and other categories of hotels- soon to be available for conferences and meetings.

Through the Campaign, Rwanda Tourism plans to focus on the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/Conventions, Exhibitions (MICE) segment, which is important for Rwanda Tourism. Stress was laid on holding MICE events in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. Clarence Fernandes said:

We received tremendous response at Automation Exhibition 2014, which, though primarily an expo showcasing products for automation, gave us a clear edge to showcase whatever Rwanda has to offer. What is very satisfying is the fact that we received good response from both exhibitors and visitors at the Expo, for our forthcoming International Business Forum ‘Rwanda Calling 2015’, which will be held in Kigali in January.

Kigali is preparing to welcome guests from the MICE segment as well as Leisure. The Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) due to open in 2015, built at a cost of USD 30 million, will be able to accommodate 2,600 delegates. Encompassing a translucent dome, and a multifunctional hall with a maximum capacity of 2,600 pax, KCC will help position the city as a leading MICE destination in East Africa. In tandem with KCC, a number of five-star hotel brands are under development at Kigali, namely Radisson Blu, Marriott, Park Inn, Sheraton, and South Africas Protea Group International.

Kabakeza offered full support and facilitation to the Rwanda High Commission for hosting Indian visitors in the country, in order to project it as a preferred MICE destination.

Bank of Kigali posts 21 percent rise in FY profit

Reuters: Rwandas Bank of Kigali has reported a 21.3 percent rise in full-year pretax profit to 22.8 billion Rwandan francs ($33.3 million).

Net interest income at the bank, the largest by assets in the east African country, climbed to 39.3 billion francs in the year through December from 35.2 billion a year before, it said on Friday.

Net fees and commissions nudged higher to 10.9 billion francs from 10.8 billion. The banks total assets grew 14.3 percent to 482.6 billion francs.

($1 = 685.0000 Rwandan francs)

Rwanda national leadership retreat to discuss priorities

A few leaders chats during a break time at Umwiherero 2014

Rwanda national leadership retreat to discuss priorities

The twelfth annual National Leadership Retreat will bring together Rwanda’s senior leaders to discuss national priorities, affirm the country’s shared vision to become a knowledge driven, middle-income country by 2020 and renew momentum to achieve development objectives. The retreat will be held at the Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre in Gabiro from 28 February – 2 March 2015.

Umwiherero, meaning retreat, refers to a tradition in Rwandan culture whereby leaders would convene to reflect on issues affecting their communities. The objective of these meetings was to identify solutions and commit to achieving them. Today, the concept has been adapted and refers to a gathering of the country’s senior leaders to solve ongoing challenges.

Now in its twelfth year, Umwiherero provides a unique opportunity for Rwanda’s leaders to reflect on the country’s progress and identify strategies to accelerate the delivery of national priorities. With only two years until the realisation of the 7-Year Government Programme, this year’s retreat will take stock on commitments made to citizens and discuss sectors that still require improvement in delivery of leaders’ promises. President Kagame will chair the retreat and deliver opening and closing remarks.

An estimated 250 leaders from Central Government, Local Government, parastatals and the private sector will attend. The retreat will include a presentation from the Prime Minister on the implementation status of 2014 Leadership Retreat recommendations. The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning will present an update on the implementation of public investment projects and the CEO of the Rwanda Governance Board will present the Government Scorecard.

There will be four discussion topics at this year’s Umwiherero, including:

  1. Leaders’ accountability – Rethinking the government’s approach to delivery
  2. Leveraging Public Private Partnership to tap the full potential of the MICE sector
  3. Reviewing the performance of health systems and enhancing the quality of health service delivery
  4. Infrastructure development to support planned urbanisation