GASABO - Members of the Rwandan Diaspora have agreed to raise an annual investment fund through their umbrella association, Rwanda Diaspora Global Network (RDGN) which they will sink into several development projects in the country in a bid to contribute to national development.
The members revealed their commitment at the 8th Annual Diaspora meeting that began yesterday at Aberdeen House in Kagugu.
The reunion attended by Rwandans residing in different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America unanimously agreed to mobilise Rwandans abroad to contribute to the fund, with each individual contributing an equivalent of Rwf10.000 monthly to raise over Rwf800m which would be invested in identified development project at the end of the year, as advised by the Central Bank and the Rwanda Development Board.
Members of the Diaspora also unanimously agreed to market the image of Rwanda in their respective countries of residence by promoting Rwandan Culture and language.
They also promised to continue remitting funds back home to support the economy and also be part and parcel of the development process.
“We promise the President that we will be part of the solution to aid dependency not only through remittances but also through a development fund and through luring potential investors during our stay abroad,” reads part of the resolutions.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rosemary Museminali commended Rwandans in Diaspora for their patriotic contribution to the development of the country especially through remittances.
Museminali said that remittances from abroad in form of family support, business investments such as real estate, have tremendously increased in the last 3 years which is a positive development.
According to the World Bank report of doing Business, Rwandans in the Diaspora remitted over $60 million in 2006 while in 2007 remittances almost doubled to over $110 million and it is expected to reach $150 million in 2008.
“As the President said in the just-concluded National Dialogue, the Government of Rwanda views the Rwandan Diaspora as an all important player in the development process, that’s why everything is being done to integrate it in the social economic development of the country” said Museminali.
The Minister said that Diaspora is now an important component of the planning process and that is why the ministry has a Diaspora General Directorate (DGD), whose major role is to coordinate their activities.
She said that as Rwanda aspires to become an ‘African Tiger’, there is need to borrow examples from Asian Tigers whose Diaspora communities contributed hugely to the economic transformation through remitting funds and promoting the images of their respective countries abroad, citing the example of the Chinese who have continued to market their country abroad through establishing Chinese Restaurants and Cultural centres across the globe.
“The Diaspora has permanence and stands to do a better job than even embassies. You are not only ambassadors but you also play an important role of spreading the message of unity and reconciliation as you rebuild the country’s image stained by the 1994 Genocide (against Tutsis),” urged Museminali.
Diaspora members also cited the existence of negative groups especially in Europe as a major setback as they have continued to spread the Genocide ideology and staining the image of the current government.
Diaspora members decried the existence of such groups led by people like Paul Rusesabagina, especially in France and Belgium where they have created divisions among Rwandans.
Members however agreed to form strong structures to counter the negative forces and also fight the Genocide ideology which is still prevalent outside Rwanda.
In the same development the Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, Francois Kanimba promised the Diaspora all necessary assistance regarding financial transactions and remittances.
Among other things, the Central Bank will give Rwandan Diaspora special considerations on interest rates and also put in place a flexible money transfer service for Rwandans abroad.
“If you show commitment, the Central Bank can consider interest rates as low as 8 percent and the Central Reserve is targeting a 0 percent interest fee on remittances and let me assure you that there is no better place to invest in than Rwanda at the moment” said Kanimba.
According to Robert Masozera, the Director General of DGD, the event will come up with resolutions and recommendations to form a strategic framework that will see the Rwandan Diaspora integrated and harnessed in the national development process.