The first day of the dialogue focused on two key topics under the themes “Driving double-digit growth” and “Engaging families for community resilience.”
“Driving double-digit growth” was about the choices, values and principles Rwandans have championed to achieve economic growth over the past two decades and particularly in 2019.
The second theme “Engaging families for community resilience” addressed hindrances in the health and education sectors through national and locally driven solutions.
The dialogue brings together members of the cabinet parliament, representatives of the Rwandan diaspora, local government, the media, the diplomatic community, and local government officials among others.
President Kagame started the dialogue with the State of the Nation address thanking everyone for the role they have played in the development of the country. “The country is doing well. You have all contributed to this.”
About the ongoing evacuation of residents from wetlands, President Kagame condemned the ineffective communication between leaders and citizens and the inability of leaders to inform citizens about the country’s policies.
“As a leader, how do you permit citizens to build and live in wetlands and provide them with land titles?”
He stated that the issue will soon be resolved where residents with land titles will be compensated.
In the country’s gradual process of expanding freedoms equally for all people and promoting gender equality, Rwanda has made strides in giving an equal platform to women to contribute to the development of the country.
President Kagame commended the role women have played in the development of Rwanda over the past two decades and urged them to keep being the pillars of growth.
“It will be very pleasant the day the position I have been elected for will be occupied by a woman.”
About security, President Kagame called opposition leaders for peaceful discussions and to settle differences that might have occurred in the past.
He warned terrorist groups based abroad that they will not keep walking in all impunity and that they will eventually face justice.
“We have made efforts to convince Rwandans around the world to come back home, have conversations and settle our differences but for those who have chosen to disturb the peace of Rwandans especially terrorist groups, they will be dealt with very soon.”
The dialogue proceeded with a panel discussion under the theme “Driving Double-Digit Growth’ moderated by Dr. Ildephonse Musafiri, Executive Director of the Strategy and Policy Council (SPC) in the Office of the President.
Panelists included Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Soraya M. Hakuziyaremye, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Clare Akamanzi, RDB Chief Executive Officer, Yusuf Murangwa, the Director General of the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) and businessman Eric Rutayisire.
Minister Ndagijimana reported that over the last 18 years, Rwanda’s economy has been growing on an 8% rate annually and is in the top 5 countries in the world with a well-performing
“Growth has been inclusive and life expectancy rose from 49 to 67 years. In the last two decades, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4 times and GDP per capita grew three and a half times.”
Clare Akamanzi, RDB Chief Executive Officer says the country looks forward to setting a climate for all types of businesses to thrive.
“We envision a ‘Vision 2050 where if a baby called Keza is born today, she will have started a business that employs people with a fair wage.”
She said the Government of Rwanda has made business environment reforms a top national priority.
“Today, registering a business takes less than 6 hours and we can only hope it will get better with time.”
On driving double-digit growth, Murangwa says through agriculture, the service sector, and industries, the economy of Rwanda is performing very well.
“As reported by NISR, The
Rwandan economy grew by 12.2% from April to June this year mainly due to improvement in agriculture, the service sector, and industries.”
In the past decade, the Government of Rwanda implemented inclusive strategies to develop Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“We approached our business reforms strategy through the lens of small business. We needed to understand what it would take for small business to efficiently operate within the country at minimal costs.”
On promoting exports of Made in Rwanda products, Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye said the government of Rwanda has started initiatives to support businesses in Rwanda to export goods.
“We are supporting companies to export more of their products and services through different initiatives such as Export Growth Fund (EGF), which is open to development finance institutions to invest in the facility to support the growth of the export sector.”
Eric Rutayisire, a Rwandan technology entrepreneur who founded Charis UAS, a company that provides solutions in agriculture, environment, health using drone technology said that the possibilities to what Rwanda can achieve are endless and urged young Rwandans to contribute to the development of the country by creating more businesses.
“For us, the sky is not the limit. It is only a viewpoint. We want to bring Rwanda to the world with our drones.”
In a bid to allow Rwandans across the country to participate in the dialogue, ‘Umushyikirano2019’ includes a question session where from different sites, citizens address their concerns. For this year’s dialogue, citizens gathered at sites in Rubavu, Nyagatare, Nyamagabe, Bweyeye in Rusizi and Intare Conference Arena.
Mukiza Willy Maurice, son of Major General Ntawunguka Pacifique nicknamed “Omega” the head of FDLR-FOCA terrorist group urged his father to return to his country and contribute to its development.
Mukiza is a fresh civil engineering graduate from the University of Rwanda. He thanked the Government of Rwanda for offering scholarships to him and his siblings despite the identity of their father.
“My brother is studying on government scholarship in China and my sister as well in Ghana pursuing a degree in pharmacy. I also recently graduated from the University of Rwanda. My father is in the Democratic Republic of Congo conspiring against Rwanda even though this country has offered us anything we could ever dream of. We are safe and have equal chances as all Rwandans. I am asking my father to please come back home so that we can all work towards development.”
Young entrepreneurs, especially in the agriculture sector, expressed their concerns about lack of storage for harvested crops which rot as they are being exported. Eugene Mukeshimana said that CCE Business Group, a business he co-founded lost Rwf 800,000 worth of goods in the past due to lack of storage. President Paul Kagame ordered that he shall be refunded the amount in its entirety.
Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources says the Government of Rwanda will continue to boost agricultural exports through different initiatives to support farmers including National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) cold storage units that support farmers that halt the spoilage of fruits and vegetables and solves the problem of poor quality of fruits and vegetable production in Rwanda.
About accelerating, poverty eradication, rural growth, and social protection, Anastase Shyaka, the minister of local government said that following guidance from last year’s dialogue, the local government has started issuing VUP loans to the poor with a 2% interest rate.
“Over the last two months, 100,000 people have applied for VUP loans and among which 25,000 loans have been approved and 7,000 disbursed.”
On supporting people with disabilities, Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health said that some of the social barriers people with disabilities face have been reduced.
“We have established qualified health institutions to support people with disabilities including Rilima, Gahini and Gatagara health centers which provide health care programs. For disadvantaged people, we are still finding ways to provide prosthesis but we still have a long way to go in this field.”