Rwanda celebrates annual book festival

This week marks the third annual Book and Reading Festival, organised by the Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC) through its Rwanda Library Services (RLS).

The festival, themed Literacy for Self-reliance, commences today with the launch of a community library in Rulindo District.

 

According to MINISPOC, the week-long festival aims to promote a culture of reading and writing, raise awareness about the role of libraries in Rwanda, and sensitize parents about their role in childrens literacy.

Throughout the week, RLS, together with partners (such as the Education Development Center, Editions Bakame, Ishyo Arts Center, Save the Children, Institut Francais, the Rwanda Book Publishers Association, etc.), will engage communities across the country in storytelling activities, reading sessions and competitions, as well as discussions.

 

The festival will conclude with a Walk for Literacy and closing ceremony on Friday, 20 February in Kigali at Petit Stade.

Rwandas Vision 2020 aims to transform the country into a knowledge-based economy; and it is believed that developing strong literacy skills will significantly contribute to achieving the goal.

Two short films by young Rwandan filmmakers to premiere at the Goethe-Institut

The Goethe-Institut Kigali Liaison Office is hosting this evening the premiere of two short-films by young Rwandan filmmakers Aimé-Philbert Mbabazi and Samuel Karemangingo Ishimwe.

The screening is taking place at the Goethe-Instituts office in Kiyovu from 6:30PM.

Read each films synopsis below:

Crossing Lines

Directed by Karemangingo Ishimwe Samuel and Mbabazi Philbert (2009) | Original English version, 28 min.

The 20th commemoration week of the genocide starts in Kigali; Kayihura a young genocide survivor locks himself into his house haunted by the painful memories of the tragedy. One morning he opens his door to stranger bleeding to death following a suicide attempt, after discovering the identity and the reason of suicide of the latter, his relationship with the past will never be the same.

Mageragere City Dropout

Directed by Philbert Mbabazi (2009) | Original English version, 29 min.

Nizzo, a 23 years old slum robber, lives the last days of his three years in one of the slums in Kigali. His disappointment in the slums encourages him to go back to Mageragere, his native village in order to start over. Nizzo faces the past he fled and returns to his former girlfriend Gasaro. But Gasaro has grown up and has become more inaccessible. She has finished her high school studies and dates the only motorbike holder and shopkeeper in the whole village.

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.

Kigali-based fashion house listed among 50 most innovative companies in the world

Fast Company, whose mission is to inspires a new breed of innovative and creative thought leaders who are actively inventing the future of business, has listed Made in Kigali among the worlds 50 most innovative companies.

The Kigali-based fashion house is praised for helping to build an industry from scratch.

In a blog post, Emma Whitford explains why the company made it to the list:

[Scorpio Ramazani Khoury,] 26-year-old, a mineral trader by profession, is trying to lead the way—and in the process, boost Rwanda’s reputation as a global exporter (of textiles, of course, but also minerals). Her fashion house, Made in Kigali, expanded in a year to employ nearly 50 tailors, and is currently working with the minister of trade on a large-scale training center in Kigali that could handle 3,000 tailors.

Made in Kigali is listed alongside world renown brands such as Apple, Google, Alibaba, Instagram, Samsung, and more.

Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Ministerial Conference on Education Opens in Kigali

Rwanda hosts the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Ministerial Conference on Education Post-2015. The three-day conference attended by 47 ministers and delegations from across the Sub-Saharan Africa who have come together to set out an African vision for the post-2015 education agenda.

This regional ministerial conference is organised by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).

The conference is also attended by stakeholders from regional economic communities, international organisations, civil society representatives, UN agencies and academics from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In his opening remarks, Rwanda’s Minister of Education Prof. Silas Lwakabamba stated that, in the last decade, the Sub-Saharan part of the continent has made progress in increasing equitable access to basic education which now stands at 96.6 percent at primary level.

Notwithstanding such successes however, we do recognize that improvements in the quality of education needs special attention, especially during the early years of schooling.

Speaking at the conference, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Education Mr. Qian Tang pointed out that the conference is held in preparation of this year’s World Education Forum, and that its outcomes will inform perspectives and recommendations for the post-2015 agenda:

This conference will promote an analysis of regional progress in education, particularly in the context of Education for All (EFA) goals. It will also contribute to the elaboration of the Framework Action to be approved at the World Education Forum.

The conference plays a crucial role in ensuring that Africa’s voice is heard and contributes to defining the education agenda.

In its National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation, Rwanda prioritises investment in education to achieve the country’s development objectives with an aim to develop strong and efficient networks of skills and knowledge.

Rwanda promotes scientific and technological innovation as key enablers to ensure sustainable economic growth and the countrys vision is to become a knowledge-based economy by 2020

What Greece should learn from Rwandas economic turnaround

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (C) talks with Rwanda’s Bank Governor John Rwangombwa (L) and Rwanda’s Finance Minister Claver Gatete (R) at the Ministry of Finance Building on January 27, 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda.

What Greece should learn from Rwandas economic turnaround

As a financier and portfolio manager, I pay a close attention on every single aspect of global capital market behaviour. My daily routine starts with sipping off a cup of chamomile tea at 5AM, while following European live trading along with Asias closing day numbers before I turn on my New York Stock Exchange monitors.

This first week of February has  been extremely volatile as far as Wall Street is concerned but also it brought some new key global highlights that not only have increased the level of my days adrenaline, but also have made me sit back and realise how Rwandas policy makers have outweighed their Greek counterparts.

This Friday 6 February 2015, the Standard & Poors (S&P) has downgraded the Greek sovereign bond to a B with a negative outlook—which means it could be worse. This has caught my attention—not only I am an active sovereign bonds and Credit Default Swaps (CDS) trader—Rwandas recent rating by Fitch Rating Agency was a slam dunk of a whooping B+, with a positive outlook from a B.

Question is: what happened to Greece for the past couple of decades?

In fact, what didnt Greece see coming that Rwandas policy makers anticipated beforehand? Shouldnt Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsiprass tour have been to learn from Rwanda’s finance minister Clever Gatete and central bank governor John Rwangombwa, as opposed to trying to cut a debt release deal with French president François Hollande, Angela Merkel of Germany, or Mario Draghi of European Central Bank (ECB), to name a few?

In 1995, Rwanda was struggling to rebuild. The countrys Debt to GDP ratio was at its all-time high—at 119.50 %, Rwandas cumulative debt was slightly higher than its Gross Domestic Production in 1995.

During this particular year, Greeces Debt to GDP ratio was about 126%. One would look at these two scenarios as being similar. On one hand its slightly the same as far as numbers are concerned but these two nations were different, with Rwanda’s 1994 genocide put into the equation.

Today, 20 years later, Rwandas Debt to GDP ratio is at 29.42% with an all-time low of 21% in 2008, as opposed to 175% for Greece today. The former means Rwandas debt accounts for nearly 30% of its internal gross production.

One doesnt have to be a genius to appreciate the remarkable turnaround that Rwanda has accomplished over the past 20 years. It is impressive indeed.

Today, Prime Minister Tsipras is touring Europe to reach an agreement with creditors to a €240 Billion bailout, otherwise his cash-drained-out government is even threatening to leave the Eurpean Union shouldnt the credit agreement be reached soon.

This reminds me of the saying that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Greece kept digging for the past two decades and it seemingly shows no intention to stop any time soon. It has been spending far more than it earns overtime. Greece has lacked similar economic policy such as Rwanda’s Kwigira, which has turned Fitch’s heads to earn a one-notch upgrade for the country.

Fitch has stated that the Rwanda economic outlook is promising due to political stability, effective business and investment approaches, increase in commodities export forecast, such as tea and coffee to name a few. The most important factor that Fitch couldnt leave out is Rwandas policy of financial independence that gave birth to the mainstream Agaciro Development Fund. Such policies would help Rwanda’s budget deficit, without digging into a much deep debt hole as now seen for Greece.

Greece didnt see this crisis coming. They didnt understand that those Eurobonds, if not backed up with effective GDP numbers, would eventually backfire. Today, most of Greece 10-year treasury bonds are due while the country cannot even afford to keep the basic internal government operations running.

With the Euro currency weakening against the US dollar, along with the Quantitative Easing that ECB just put in effect, which would weaken the Euro currency even further for the sake of deflation; the future of Greece is nearly as speculative as its Credit Default Swaps, as opposed to Rwanda which has formed a V-chart for the past two decades.

Now, what happened to this former Europe tourism powerhouse?

Why did I have to go to Brazil or the Dominican Republic for my Christmas holidays instead? Isnt it because those Greek medieval theatre stadiums havent been innovated up to par? Why does S&P has to downgrade Greece while Rwanda is upgraded? Isnt it maybe because its financial modelling formula has turned out ineffective?

Perhaps Prime Minister Tsipras should look back and probably pay a visit to the heart of Africa, to learn from Rwanda’s story, instead of letting Merkel and Hollande laugh at his face—to send him home empty handed.

Forbes lists Clarisse Iribagiza among top 30 promising young entrepreneurs in Africa

Forbes lists Clarisse Iribagiza among top 30 promising young entrepreneurs in Africa

In its list of 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2015, Forbes has featured Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO of HeHe Labs (formerly HeHe Limited):

Iribagiza, 26, runs Kigali-based mobile technology company HeHe Limited, which builds custom mobile applications for businesses, provides 24/7 online and offline support and cloud storage services. Iribagiza founded the company in 2010 after winning a $50,000 grant from Inspire Africa, a Rwandan TV entrepreneurial contest. Iribagiza’s clientele includes a number of government agencies in Rwanda.