• Former Miss France vows to be country’s Ambassador
KIGALI - The fourth Diaspora Global Convention started Sunday morning at the Kigali Serena Hotel, with the presentation of the final report of a survey on the Rwandan community in Belgium carried out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
During the event, the long awaited Rwanda Diaspora website was also officially launched.
While opening the three-day session, Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Minaffet) thanked the participants and reiterated what she underscored as government’s will to integrate the Diaspora into national development.
The current convention is being held under the theme “Integrating Rwandan Diaspora into National Development Strategies for the Benefit of All.”
“The message in line with this theme is that the Diaspora is Rwanda’s strength, it is Rwanda’s riches – it is important that it is utilized productively – the will is there. The government has it and the Diaspora has it,” Mushikiwabo said, noting that the Diaspora has lots of potential.
Among these she highlighted “valuable remittances” to the tune of US$ 175m this year, up from US$139m in 2008, and the One Dollar Campaign project.
She encouraged the Diaspora to consider “skills transfer” initiatives, and thanked them for their work in promoting the country’s image and culture as the country’s ambassadors wherever they live.
On that note, Sonia Rolland, a French actress and the first African-born Miss France pageant winner (2000) who is born to a Rwandan mother and a French father, also vowed to do everything she could, for Rwanda.
With her mother offering to interpret, the former Miss France underscored that it is her wish to offer her services to the government through Minaffet.
Rolland told the conference that whenever she will be needed, in France, she will be ready to help and “I will contribute much to my country of origin.”
Rolland is here with a French TV team (TV5), to take part in the ongoing convention, the Miss Rwanda project, as well as her other humanitarian projects in the country.
Discussions on the first day of the meeting also centred on leveraging remittances to promote the country’s economic development, and how the Diaspora can access housing and mortgage opportunities back home.
The afternoon session tackled the issue of mobilizing Diaspora savings with the help of the newly established Rwanda Diaspora Mutual Fund (RDMF), an initiative that was officially launched later in the evening.