The government has introduced a Bill that seeks to dissolve the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) and form three independent and specialised bodies focused on oil, gas, and minerals as well as land, water, and forestry.
The Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Vincent Biruta, introduced the draft law in the Lower House, on Friday, and its basis was unanimously approved by MPs, which means that laws governing the new bodies will be assessed at the House’s committee level before being passed.
RNRA was formed in 2010 as a merger of National Land Centre, the National Forestry Authority (NAFA), and the Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority (OGMR).
While the merger was initially intended to streamline the bodies’ services, Biruta told MPs that RNRA was no longer fit to deliver on the new goals set by the Government to maximise efforts in the exploration and exploitation of minerals, oil, and gas, as well as efficient management of land, water, and forests.
“The merged centres under RNRA performed well in the last six years but we now have to make changes given the current orientations we have in line with meeting our economic targets,” he said.
The new agencies to be created will include Rwanda Land Management Authority, Rwanda Water and Forestry Management Authority, as well as the country’s oil and gas authority.
An explanatory note submitted by the Government to Parliament to accompany the draft law dissolving the RNRA says the new bodies to be formed will have financial and administrative autonomy and will be in a better position to focus on their specific objectives.
MPs welcome the Bill
MPs welcomed the move, with the majority indicating that the envisaged entities will bring more focus on specific areas that need to be exploited to improve the lives of Rwandans.
“These are bodies that will have a great role in our country’s economy and wellbeing of Rwandans,” said Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa.
MP Euthalie Nyirabega said that having a specialised body in charge of managing forests was long overdue.
“There were issues in the management of forests across the country since it wasn’t clear enough about who was in charge of them,” she said, explaining that some forests were not being taken care of simply because people would consider them government property.
Minister Biruta said the Government’s new policy toward managing its forests consists of contracting private entrepreneurs to look after the forests and positively exploit them without harming the environment.
“We have to put our forests to good use to reduce what we import from abroad and increase what we send there,” Biruta said.
The minister said the Government will strengthen efforts to explore for minerals in the country, add value to minerals that are already exported from Rwanda, and resume exploration activities for oil and gas.
Water and land resources will also be better managed to help citizens live well without pressure that compel them to exert too much strain on the country’s natural resources.