Over 3,000 expected for Rwanda Day in Atlanta

Over 3,000 Rwandans and friends of Rwanda are expected to attend the sixth edition of Rwanda Day, scheduled Saturday, September 20, in the US city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Rwanda Day events have since become a platform for strategic networking and closing business deals between government officials, businesses and the Diaspora community.

This year’s event is expected to help forge new partnerships that would help fast-track the country’s development.

The Atlanta event will be held under the theme; “Agaciro: Our Choice”, in celebration of the country’s 20 years of liberation.

Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss solutions to underlying challenges to the nation’s progress, Parfait Gahamanyi, the Director General of Rwandan Community Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said yesterday.

“Rwanda Day 2014 will be preceded by a business forum on September 19, during which local investors will meet their counterparts in the Diaspora to discuss Rwanda’s investment climate.

From the forum, we are optimistic that new ventures and partnerships will be formed,” Gahamanyi told journalists in Kigali yesterday.

“On the main day, there will be two discussions. One will be on youth employment and entrepreneurship, after which, participants will discuss the issue of global dignity, and how Rwanda can work with the rest of the world to promote dignity.”

The event will climax with a keynote address by President Paul Kagame as well as a Question and Answer interactive session.

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African governments urged to scale up investments in agriculture

African governments have been advised to scale up investments in the agriculture sector to enhance productivity and ensure food security on the continent. These were the remarks made at the opening of the second African Union Private Sector and Agribusiness Forum in Kigali, Thursday.

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the Africa Union Commissioner in charge of Rural Economy and Agriculture said the initiative must be done in a more inclusive and sustainable manner. The 2-day annual conference brings together more than 100 agronomists, policy makers, business leaders, farmers and development partners from across Africa. It is expected to lay a concrete foundation for the transformation of agriculture across the content.

Ms. Tumusiime noted that doubling agro productivity will transform the continent’s economic growth. Agro business, she said, is poised for global growth however, both public and the private sector must complement each other for Africa to benefit from this growth:

More resources will have to be extended to women and youth along the value chain to enable them to transform the sector.

African governments are spending more than US$40B annually on food importation and yet food can locally be produced on the continent. Tumusiime added:

If we are to take agriculture as a business, it has to be well funded and streamlined from a multi-sectoral perspective.

As part of the sustained Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), the African Union Commission has spearheaded efforts to engage the private sector in identifying opportunities for their increased participation in agricultural value chains in Africa.

We have also highlighted and underscored the need to strengthen private sector participation in the program as part of expansion and strengthening agribusiness in African agricultural value chains.

Rwanda’s Agriculture minister, Gerardine Mukeshimana, said there is need to turn the sector into a market oriented entity through increased resource mobilization. Agro business will grow faster only if the private sector takes a leading role, Mukeshimana adds:

We must do more to connect farmers with buyers through rural infrastructure development, technical training and most importantly scale up our budget allocations to the sector for sustained economic growth.

Rwanda was the 1st  country to sign up for CAADP, and more than 10% of the national budget goes to agriculture in order to stimulate its growth. In Africa, agriculture employs more than 80% and contributes 20% of the continent’s total exports and more than 40% total GDP. In Rwanda, the sector grew by 5% and contributed 1.5 percentage pts to the overall GDP growth during Q-2 of Y 2014.

Overall, the entire sector employs about 80% of citizens contributed 33% of the country’s economic growth.

Residents from 12 countries to get visa-free entry to Rwanda

Passport holders of 12 countries across the world will no longer need a visa to travel to Rwanda for short visits from next month, Rwandas Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration said Monday.

A visa waiver agreement, which recognized growing links between Rwanda and concerned 12 countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, Mauritius and Philippines will be applied where by nationals from these nations will from now on be exempted from entry/tourism visa for a stay of up to 90 days, the official statement said. Among other countries for whose citizens shall get and pay entry visa fee of 30 U.S. dollars are Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Britain and the United States, according to the same source.

Speaking during an exclusive interview with Xinhua, the spokesperson of Rwandas Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, Ange Sebutege, said that Rwanda nationals are also expected to enjoy visa-free access to Philippines where by it is expected that each year the number of investors from the Southeast Asian island was expected to grow with the visa waiver in place.

Meanwhile, citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) will continue getting visitors visa for a stay not exceeding 90 days with no fees as provided by the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Region.

Rwanda is a member state of the sub-regional Economic Community of the Great Lakes region that also includes Burundi and DR Congo, and members of this regional bloc are bound by the agreement signed in September 1976 dedicated to promote regional integration, particularly free movement of persons, goods, and services.

The new decision on visa policy and regulations for neighboring DR Congo nationals comes a few months after Congolese authorities has instructed all Rwandan citizens to pay for visa in order to enter the DR Congo.

By adopting these new set of measures, Rwanda is looking to become a preferred destination for tourists while mobilising large foreign investments in the country.

India committed for infrastructure development in Rwanda

Paul Kagame expressed gratefulness for the contribution of India in the development of Rwanda, particularly in the field of agriculture and energy.

India remains committed to supporting infrastructure development in Rwanda, President Pranab Mukherjee said here today.

Welcoming the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Mukherjee said India appreciates the important role of Rwanda in maintaining peace and security in Central Africa and Horn of Africa:

The two countries have a commonalty of views on many issues.

Kagame has called on Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

The President expressed happiness that the hydroelectric project supported by India will be soon commissioned. Mukherjee pointed out that India has supported the expansion of cultivable land in Rwanda:

India remains committed to supporting infrastructure development in Rwanda.

Mukherjee said he is sure that participation of Rwandan President in the India Economic Summit will enrich its deliberations.

Kagame warmly reciprocated Mukherjees sentiments and recalled the long history of friendship between India and Rwanda. He appreciated Indias positive contribution to Africa. Kagame expressed gratefulness for the contribution of India in the development of Rwanda, particularly in the field of agriculture and energy, it said. Kagame said the Government of Rwanda is keen to enhance relations with India by deepening and broadening bilateral cooperation.

Rwanda also shares Indias views on many global issues, including the need to reform the UN and other international organisations to reflect current global realities, the release said.