East Africa Single Visa: One Step In The Right Direction

East Africa, a region recognized as a successful global location for mobile payments and a thriving online space, is embracing technology advancement as part of its growth plan for diverse sectors. The newly recently launched East Africa Single Visa is intended to scale up tourist arrivals in EAC member states; Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. This multinational-travel certificate which costs $90 will grant tourists a 90-day validity period with no room for extension.

Although termed as ‘long-haul destination’, one cannot stop wondering why, with massive cultural and natural resources, Africa continues to lag behind in recorded tourist visits. According to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, of the one Billion tourists who travelled in 2012, only 50 million were destined for Africa, where East Africa only managed to scoop 5 million (1 percent) of the bound-for-Africa travelers. “We need to re-package ourselves” quipped Waturi Matu-Coordinator for East African Tourism Platform in an interview with Jovago.com, a leading online hotel booking platform in Africa. Ms. Matu explains that this revamping process would start with the leadership, down to stakeholders and the African Media, “Africa has suffered blanket misconceptions for a long time. We are yet to carry ourselves from the gripping grief of the term ‘dark continent’. Africa needs to tell her own story, and let the world know that beyond the crisis (that exist in every other nation) there exists vast stretches of unique culture, wildlife, flora and fauna, business opportunities and untapped resources.”

Having spearheaded the campaigns that saw three of EAC member states sign the Single Tourist Visa during the 2013 World Travel Market, Waturi notes that opening borders and removing entry point hurdles is a first step in catapulting both international and intra-regional tourism. Although Tanzania had earlier objected to the Agreement citing security reasons, they have since expressed interest which will result in either of these two scenarios as explained by Waturi: They request to be included in the current Northern Corridor arrangement (The cost and formula for revenue sharing would have to be revised to reflect the new entrant) and the interest is brought to the attention of the EAC Secretariat where all EAC countries meet and agree on an implementation framework, determine cost and formula for revenue sharing and sign agreement. Option B would be most appropriate and a true reflection of regional integration. Burundi, she says will be joining at a later date, “we must not rush member states as each country is at different levels, both in infrastructure and technology.

Apart from opening the borders for regional tourism, the agreement also allows immigration authorities to recognize National Identification Documents as passports for the EA Community, which fairly levels the playground for both tourists and tour operators

Rwandan schools to improve child nutrition with spirulina

Under the guidance of their principals, many primaries schools in Kigali city have started to breed a blue-green algae called spirulina, widely believed to contain a miraculous array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

At the primary school of Nyamirambo, each pupil was assigned the care of a plastic bottle containing a sample of the culture.

Since spirulina, like any other plant, needs carbon to photosynthesis, the students have been asked to simply shake the solution every two hours, explains Francois Nyangenzi, a primary school teacher at Nyamirambo.

We are trying to formulate a new protocol for plant breeding – in bottles, under various weather conditions, with or without any other resources, Nyangezi told Xinhua.

It is expected that during the initial phase, the project will focus on three districts of Kigalicity including Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge where the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has expanded its school feeding program in Rwanda to cover many schools especially in urban areas.

The school feeding program, which is part of a global WFP school feeding campaign launched by the agency in 2001, aims at expanding and improving education for millions of poor and suffering children around the world.

It is said that the school feeding program has increased school enrolment while the health of the school children has improved because the classrooms have been improved.

In a related development, the latest official report released by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), four percent of Rwandan households equivalent to 82,000 homes, had poor food consumption, which represents an extremely insufficient and unbalanced diet. However, as the new plant is known in the scientific community as multicellular photosynthetic Cyanophyceae, the algae is considered acomplete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that human beings need to survive.

Some experts say spirulina is a possible solution to the nutritional problems afflicting large portions of the human population. In several countries it is already being exploited as the food of the future. It can be cultivated in ponds or lakes, primarily in sub-tropical climates

Rwandan schools to improve child nutrition with spirulina

Under the guidance of their principals, many primaries schools in Kigali city have started to breed a blue-green algae called spirulina, widely believed to contain a miraculous array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

At the primary school of Nyamirambo, each pupil was assigned the care of a plastic bottle containing a sample of the culture.

Since spirulina, like any other plant, needs carbon to photosynthesis, the students have been asked to simply shake the solution every two hours, explains Francois Nyangenzi, a primary school teacher at Nyamirambo.

We are trying to formulate a new protocol for plant breeding – in bottles, under various weather conditions, with or without any other resources, Nyangezi told Xinhua.

It is expected that during the initial phase, the project will focus on three districts of Kigalicity including Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge where the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has expanded its school feeding program in Rwanda to cover many schools especially in urban areas.

The school feeding program, which is part of a global WFP school feeding campaign launched by the agency in 2001, aims at expanding and improving education for millions of poor and suffering children around the world.

It is said that the school feeding program has increased school enrolment while the health of the school children has improved because the classrooms have been improved.

In a related development, the latest official report released by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), four percent of Rwandan households equivalent to 82,000 homes, had poor food consumption, which represents an extremely insufficient and unbalanced diet. However, as the new plant is known in the scientific community as multicellular photosynthetic Cyanophyceae, the algae is considered acomplete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that human beings need to survive.

Some experts say spirulina is a possible solution to the nutritional problems afflicting large portions of the human population. In several countries it is already being exploited as the food of the future. It can be cultivated in ponds or lakes, primarily in sub-tropical climates

Chinese smartphone makers strengthen foothold in Rwanda

Chinese smartphone makers, Tecno, Konka and other Asian brands like KZG and Itel have been carrying out huge marketing of their brands in Rwanda over the past year. Their strategy is multipronged they are radio and TV smartphone brands adverts as well as billboards of the same along city streets and other places.

Frank Gakara, the general manager of the Tecno Rwanda franchise, toldBusiness Times that Rwandans, especially the middle-income earners, prefer smartphones, thanks to their many user-friendly applications.

Most Rwandans cannot afford high-end brands like Samsungs Galaxy series, Apples iPhone, BlackBerry or Alcatel, opting for the more affordable Chinese-made phones.

Though some people, especially the corporates, would like to acquire the latest smartphone brands at any cost, Gakara feels the Rwandan market, just like the rest of the African market has been ignored by large smartphone makers like Apple, HTC, Samsung and Blackberry. He says brands like Tecno have developed their African growth strategy by producing and selling volumes at lower prices compared to the other brands:

The Chinese have prioritised the African market… they have looked at the gaps in the market and tried to fix them. Previously, we didn’t have service phone centres, but today we have five of them in the city and others in most of the districts.

People love something that is affordable, can perform all the functions and are easy to repair.

Tecno plans to set up an electronics factory at the Kigali Special Economic Zone and a ‘Tecno building’ in town, once they get the necessary approvals from the Rwanda Development Board:

We want to support government’s vision of making Rwanda an Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub. The factory will enable us supply affordable electronic devices like smartphones in the country and in the region, thereby reducing transport costs between China and Rwanda.

June statistics from RURA show that there were 2,571,500 mobile Internet subscribers, representing a 25 per cent penetration rate for smartphones.

The data also indicated that the mobile phone penetration rate in Rwanda stood at 7,214,385 people, leaving much more to be desired in terms of growing the number of smartphone users

Kagame builds numerous international partnerships

Kagame meets Ninad Karpe, CEO of Aptech Ltd, of Mumbai, India (Photo: @NinadKarpe)

DIGITALJOURNAL.COM: President Paul Kagame says he has been traveling more frequently recently to create partnerships that bring solutions to Rwandas development challenges.

Kagame was on Tuesday (November 11) addressing locals of Jabana sector in Gasabo District of Rwandas capital Kigali. The visit is part of his regular community outreach programme.

When you see me travelling, it is not for leisure, Kagame said amid loud applause, in apparent response to recent concerns that he has been travelling a lot more than before. It is to build partnerships that will allow us to solve our challenges.

President Kagame has been travelling overseas for about 60 days searching for investors. His latest business trips took him to the UK, Dubai, South Korea, Indonesia and India.

While at the Global-Africa Investment Summit London, he presented 15 projects that require about $23billion to accelerate the countrys development agenda.

Kagame was seeking for $930.4million to fund road-construction. A new $700minternational-airport in Rwanda is in the works, as well as energy projects worth$2.7billion, and agribusiness. In India for example, Kagame promised investors a red-carpet reception and unlimited opportunities once they turned their investment focus towards Rwanda.

While in the United States in September, President Kagame secured Rwandaspresence on list of only five African countries that will benefit from a €2billion fund for clean energy. Kigali hopes to finance solar-projects and hydro-plants. Already, a multi-million-dollar green energy fund has been set up in the country.

In the United States still, the President also put pen to paper with U.S. firm Symbion Power for a 50MW Independent Power Production (IPP) project using methane gas from Lake Kivu.

Kagame said in his speech that the first railway-system was coming to Rwanda. Studies on the $1.2billion UgandaRwanda standard gauge railway started in July to be completed by July 2015.

The President said there should never be complacence about the prevailing stability and security in the country. In other places, bombs are exploding every day–in markets, reason why we should be proud to be Rwandans, said Kagame.

Meanwhile, at the same event as has become the routine with Presidential upcountry trips, the speech was followed by an interactive session during which ordinary people complained about actions of local leaders.

African women leaders learn from Rwanda

Rwandan women line up take part in a vote for National Womens Council in Kigali in July 2004 (Photo: Reuters)

TELESURTV.NET: The world has a lot to learn from female empowerment in Rwanda where sixty-four percent of its parliament consists of women – more than any other country in the world.

Female lawmakers from all over Africa traveled to Rwanda on Monday to begin a week-long “study tour.” The women will share their leadership ideas, exchange experiences from their time in parliament, and discuss ways to encourage female participation in politics within Africa and the world.

Some 50 female delegates are attending the conference from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Madagascar, Niger and Eritrea.

According to a Rwandan government statement, the theme for the five-day tour is “Building an Enabling Environment for Womens Economic Empowerment and Political Participation in Africa.”

Rwanda’s political engagement of women has been deemed a huge success. Sixty-four percent of its parliament is made up of women – occupying 45 out of the 80 seats. That is more than any other country in the world. The Rwandan Constitution also states that women must constitute no less than 30 percent of positions in the Legislature. Worldwide, women still represent only 21.9 percent of all elected parliamentarians.

Diana Ofwona, the United Nations women representative in Rwanda, and acting U.N. resident coordinator, said people have a lot to learn from the country in terms of women empowerment and political participation. In addressing the delegates in Rwandas capital of Kigali on Monday, Ofwona also challenged governments to remove all impediments to women empowerment and their ability to enter politics.

These deterrents come from existing cultural stereotypes that lead to gender discrimination and marginalization, says Donatile Mukabalisa, Speaker of Rwandan Parliament. Empowering women means breaking those stereotypes, she added.

The study tour is an joint-initiative by the African Union, the regional office of the United Nations Development Program, and the Forum of Rwandan Women Parliamentarians.

Rwanda ponders opening embassy in Zambia

Zambias Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, George Zulu

DAILY-MAIL.CO.ZM: The Rwandan government plans to open up an embassy and establish an airline in Zambia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary George Zulu has said.

Mr Zulu said in an interview yesterday that Rwanda has expressed interest to strengthen its presence in Zambia by setting up an airline and a diplomatic mission. He added that Rwanda is yet to make its plans official by communicating with the Zambian government.

We [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] have been encouraging the Rwandan government to hold talks with the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications so that they can set up an airline here.

Trade between the two countries will improve once plans by the Rwandan government to set up an embassy and airline come to fruition:

We are encouraging them to come because there will be an increased trade between the two countries and it will increase bilateral agreements.

Zambia is represented in Rwanda by a non-resident ambassador Judith Kapijimpanga who is based in Tanzania.
The country hosts thousands of Rwandan refugees, many of whom have opted to stay despite the end of the war in that country.

Rwandas economy set to grow by 6.5%

Rwandas economy is expected to grow by 6.5 percent in 2015 as aid flows continue to recover and the services and construction sectors expand, the country’s central bank governor said on Monday.

Over the next two to three years, average annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to reach more than 7 percent as the economy rebounds from delays in budgetary support from donors, John Rwangombwa said in an interview while visiting Dubai for an international conference:

“For next year we are targeting for 6.5 percent. The services sector is picking up and the construction sector continues to perform well.”

GDP will grow 6 percent this year, up from 4.7 percent last year, he estimated.

International donors delayed aid payments to Rwanda in 2012 after United Nations monitors accused it of backing rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, some aid flows have resumed.

We expect in the next two to three years a recovery to the pre-shock numbers of above 7 percent.

Rwangombwa said by “shock” referring to the delay in aid payments.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said in 2013 that he wanted the countrys economy to grow by an average annual rate of 11.5 percent over five years. This target is unlikely to be hit in the short term, said Rwangombwa:

That does not discourage us. Its like saying you aim for the moon, when you fail you land in the stars.

#Twahisemo campaign gains momentum ahead of Atlanta Rwanda Day

Rwandans have made it clear that they have chosen three things twenty years after the genocide, to stay together, be accountable and think big.

Ahead of the Rwanda Day, slated for sept 20th, 2014 there is an ongoing campaign dubbed ‘Twahisemo’- meaning ‘we have chosen’ through which the three messages have been clearly said and sent through social media around the country.

These messages have gone viral with every Rwandan from all walks of life; ranging from opinion leaders, politicians and artists and local citizen describing what these choices mean for them and how they interpret the future of their country.

Through Facebook and twitter, the campaign has called on citizens to Join Rwanda’s journey: 20 year with 3 choices. Staying Together, Being Accountable, and Thinking Big.

Some of the messages selected include; King James, Rwanda popular musician who said “the choice is to be human; while female musician Teta Diane also says that “the choice is to build the country”

New Morning Show Airs on Rwanda TV

Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) has started to broadcast a morning show co-produced with Legacy 45 Entertainment. Rise and Shine Rwanda will be aired every weekday from 6am to 8am and rebroadcast at 5pm.

Speaking to The New Times, Dianne Dusaidi of Legacy 45 Entertainment, said that all segments of the RTV audience will be catered for:

There is something for everyone. News headlines will most likely cater to an older audience, while the business segment will cater for those interested in entrepreneurship, and lifestyle is mainly for the youth.

The show is made available for you to view on YouTube:

Rise and Shine Rwanda is mainly anchored by TV and radio personalities Makeda Mahadeo and Regis Isheja. It also features Arnold Kwizera, Fidelis Karangwa, and Allan Karakire as presenters for sports, business and lifestyle respectively.