The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has dismissed British media reports that Rwanda used aid money for a campaign to promote the country as a tourist and investment destination.
The campaign includes a 3-year sponsorship deal with Arsenal, a top flight English Premier League football club where their jerseys will bear ‘Visit Rwanda’ on their sleeves in addition to other branding and marketing products.
The deal will see Rwanda benefit from a global audience of over 35 million daily and 100 million on match days.
While branding and marketing experts have referred to the deal as a major boost for Rwanda, some sections of the British media have claimed the money used to finance the deal was from British taxpayers.
“This is not correct,” DFID said in a statement released Monday this week.
“DFID does not give any money to Visit Rwanda or the Rwanda Development Board”.
It was responding to an article published in The Sun, that had other inaccuracies, notably that Rwanda relies on aid for nearly half of its budget.
“This is incorrect. Global financial aid is currently 16 per cent of Rwanda’s budget. This has fallen from around 60 per cent ten years ago as Rwanda has grown its economy, tackled extreme poverty and become less dependent on aid.” DFID added.
The agency further pointed out that all UK aid to Rwanda is earmarked for specific programmes such as education and agriculture.
“We track results to ensure our programmes are delivering life-changing results for Rwanda’s poorest people while encouraging Rwanda to take more responsibility for providing its own essential services.
UK aid to Rwanda has been decreasing for several years, as we have been supporting Rwanda to stand on its own two feet, provide for its own people and invest in its own economy and resources”.
The UK Aid agency provided evidence of the progress Rwanda has made, debunking the articles claims that Rwanda is making little development progress.
“The piece (by The Sun) also says there is little evidence of development results in Rwanda. Official statistics show that Rwanda is making good progress tackling poverty. Rwanda has lifted almost two million people out of poverty since 2005 and the economy has grown at an average of 8% per year since 2000.
“Rwanda has made more progress against the Human Development Index (an official indicator of life expectancy, education and income) than any other country in the world,” DFID added.
“Rwanda sourced the financing for the ‘Visit Rwanda’ from revenues generated by the rapidly growing tourism industry”.
Generating slightly over $400 million annually, Tourism is already Rwanda’s highest earner of foreign exchange, ahead of tea, coffee and minerals combined.
It expects to double its foreign exchange revenue by generating $800 million from tourism by 2014 and the campaigns such as ‘Visit Rwanda’ are integral to achieving this goal
In an exclusive interview with the The New Times, published Monday, RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi, said that the UK being Rwanda’s second source of tourism after the US, building on the existing interest made a lot of sense.