We all must value trees in our daily lives, says Biruta


Minister Biruta addresses participants during Umuganda. / Elias Hakizimana

As Rwanda celebrated the International Day of Tree Planting at the weekend, telecom giant MTN led other organisations in efforts to plant trees in the Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District during the monthly community work, Umuganda.

At the heart of the function was the call for more people to adopt clean cooking energy by using gas to save the environment.

During the function, Bart Hofker, the newly-appointed MTN-Rwanda chief executive, said it was within the telecom’s vision to work with other partners to ensure safety of communities.

The new MTN Rwanda CEO Bart Hofker (middle) together Mayor Mukaruliza (2nd left) and other MTN staff during the Umuganda on Saturday. / Elias Hakizimana

“We are really proud of how many colleagues are participating here today,” Hofker said.

Hofker commended the Umuganda concept.

“The Umuganda concept is amazing. This is my second time to witness this day that brings together community strength, including officials, and politicians for common good. I admire this exercise. MTN is part of society and we want to contribute to society and we will always help wherever is possible,” Hofker said.

Dr Vincent Biruta, the minister for natural resources, who presided over the event, reminded Rwandans that they must value trees in their daily lives. The event marked 41st tree planting day, worldwide.

Dr Vincent Biruta, Minister of Natural Resources (C) with Rosary Motondo (L), Congolese Minister of Natural Resources and MTN Rwanda CEO Bart Hofker planting a tree. / Elias Hakizimana

Dr Biruta called upon Rwandans, especially those living in towns, to play their role in increasing forest cover and green environment by embracing the use of gas in cooking in place for charcoal and firewood, which is the major cause for deforestation.

The minister challenged citizens to follow up on planted trees to make sure they are growing.

Planting trees and forests is in line with Kigali city policies to improve on the way the city plants forests and in line with its master plan.

According to the ministry, forestry and nature conservation is one of the five sub-sectors that constitute the environment and natural resources sector.

Biruta said the Government has plans to plant varieties of leafy trees which, he said, can reduce air pollution, giving a green image to the Kigali city.

“We plan to increase value chain on forest products and, where possible, export tree products,” he said.

The Minister for Natural Resources of Congo-Brazzaville, Rosary Motondo, who had joined Rwandans for the community work, said she was impressed by the Umuganda concept and that it was a pleasure to join Rwanda in planting trees.

“I have learnt more from Rwanda as a green country, It is my first time to witness the monthly community work, a good example that all African can follow on,”said Motondo.

Rwanda targets to have a forest cover of 30 per cent by 2018, a target that is likely to be achieved earlier given that, currently, forest cover is at 29.6 per cent of the nation, according to Biruta.