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.

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.

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 aims to increase financial inclusion to 80% by 2017

In order to achieve economic transformation and poverty reduction, Rwanda has set its goal on increasing financial inclusion to 80 percent by 2017. Key to this is broadening the financial literacy of Rwandans, and sensitizing on investment diversity and a savings culture both for individuals and consumer-oriented organizations. CNBC Africa investigates.

Tony Blair lauds Rwanda on Solar Power Plant Investment

Tony Blair visits East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Rwanda. Photo: The Office of Tony Blair

Tony Blair lauds Rwanda on Solar Power Plant Investment

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that the building of East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Rwanda is symbolic and a great vote of confidence in the country. Tony Blair, who is the founder and patron of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) was visiting the plant yesterday.

It is ground-breaking in terms of how you do these solar projects. It is really important investment and a great international collaboration.

Rwamagana Solar Power plant will provide power to over 15,000 Rwandan households and add almost 6 percent to the country’s total energy supply.

Tony Blair describes the plant as “a good example of what Rwanda can be.” He adds that it is a signal for other investors, because it’s been facilitated by the government working fast to make the investment happen. “People know that when they come to Rwanda they can invest, without corruption,” he remarked.

“This is a good example of what Rwanda can be,” Tony Blair said.

The $23m project, which adds 8.5MW to the national grid, was Rwanda’s first competitive process for private investment in the energy sector.

It is situated on land owned by Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, whose mission is to care for Rwanda’s most vulnerable children orphaned before and after the Rwandan genocide. The village is leasing land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village’s charitable expenses.  As part of the visit, Tony Blair also spoke to young people at the Village.

The Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Infrastructure, signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Gigawatt Global Rwanda to build, operate and maintain the on-grid solar power plant for a period of 25 years. The plant is comprised of 28,600 solar photovoltaic modules each with 300Wp (Watt-peak), eight inverters and is connected to the national grid.

The solar plant makes up just over five percent of Rwanda’s current total energy generation capacity of 155 MW. The objective is to increase the country’s total installed generation capacity to 563 MW by 2017/18. This will be achieved through ongoing and future investments in hydro, peat, methane gas, and solar and other power generation options.

AGI has worked with the Government of Rwanda since 2008.  Our team has been providing support to central institutions within the Government of Rwanda such as the Presidency, the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Capacity Building Secretariat (NCBS) and the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Infrastructure. We are supporting the systems and structures of effective government, so that the lives of millions of Rwandans who live in poverty can be improved.

President Kagame says aid is more political, markets are neutral

President Paul Kagame officially opened the Capital Markets East Africa International Conference which is taking place in Kigali, under the theme Accelerating Economic Development.   Click here to see the video

During a session on Making Markets Work for Growth, President Kagame intervened:

The question of preference between markets and aid can only be asked in Africa, not in any other region of this world.

Let’s not be diplomatic, let’s not gloss over issues. Markets are markets. We know what they offer outweigh what we have in aid by thousands of times. All kinds of wealth lying all over the place in Africa and being recycled to us in forms of aid and in the end we are told, you must be humble and quiet and not say anything. Let’s not be diplomatic, let’s not gloss over issues. Markets are markets. We know what they offer outweigh what we have in aid by thousand of times.

Aid is more political than anything else. Markets are less political, they are neutral.”

Rwandas Prime Minister inaugurates new Science and Technology Centre

Rwandas Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi today inaugurated a new Science and Technology Centre at the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA).

Located in Gishushu, the Centre has the capacity to accommodate up to 6,000 students.

Speaking at the inauguration, Prime Minister Murekezi said:

We are counting on skilled and competitive graduates, with a mindset of innovation and entrepreneurship, to seize new opportunities, in our rapidly growing economy.

It is fitting that this new campus will focus on science and technology. The building is not only a distinctive architectural contribution to Kigali’s skyline, but inside it also integrates the modern technologies, that young Rwandans must master to compete in the global knowledge economy.

AUCA was founded in 1978 but opened in 1984, and it remains one of the key higher learning institutions in the country.