Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) has catalogued untapped natural resources across the country that local governments in conjunction with the private sector could exploit to create jobs and boost revenues.
RGB started the campaign in the Western Province in October last year
Data so far collected shows that the Western Province has exploited just about 79 percent available opportunities, while the northern and southern provinces have only exploited 40 and 35 percent of their resources, respectively. In Western Province, RGB says in the tourism sector was yet to be fully exploited. The board cites touristic sites in and around Lake Kivu, Virunga National Park, natural caves and Gishwati Natural Forest. There are also the beautiful islands on Lake Kivu.
Local leaders agree that they can do more to exploit natural resources in their midst. Western Province executive secretary, Jabo Paul, told The New Times that the 250-km road under construction will open the area to more business such as shipping facilities and business centres.
“We understood that it is a pity that we use the lake for only fishing and transportation. We are calling upon private investors to come up with ideas in ventures such as water gaming.”
A mega project the province hopes to implement soon is a five-star hotel, through a public private partnership deal.
The project proprietor is the Western Province Investment Company (WESPIC).
Jabo said they are waiting for a go ahead from the Ministry of Finance, “because local government cannot venture into business without authorisation of the government treasurer.”
Tourism, which seems a cross cutting opportunity was also recommended to the Northern Province.
RGB established that the area has a potential market for more luxury hotels, eco-lodges and golf course to serve tourism activities centred around mountain gorillas.
In the south, the Kibeho apparition site of the Virgin Mary, cultural tourism in the Nyanza and Huye museums were cited amongst tourism opportunities that need more innovations to ensure full exploitation.
RGB has also identified potential in energy in which local governments can team up with the private sector to build small hydro power generation plants
For example, Nyamagabe district in the southern province has several waterfalls on rivers such as Rukarara, Muhura, Nzavu and Mushishito that are ideal for power generation. So far, only two hydro power plants have been built at Rukarara, and three more are planned.
“The projects are costly and we cannot afford them alone. We shall wait until private investors sign partnership with government to work on them,” said Philbert Mugisha, Nyamagabe District Mayor.
According to RGB, many districts have virgin fertile land that could be used for commercial agriculture and increase production of cash crops. At the same time, a number of wetland could be used to produce more rice for domestic and export market.
The Northern Province is being advised to expand production of pyrethrum—a high value crop for which Rwanda has potential to be a leading world producer due to fertile soils and adequate rainfall that area is blessed with.
Local authorities are being urged to exploit the available market of the timber and the charcoal by investing in forestation.
Cross border trade is another area that RGB says local government can exploit to improve their revenues and create jobs. Western particularly has huge potential in cross border trade, because it has the water and road transport infrastructure.
According to Oscar Nzeyimana, Rusizi District mayor, a shipyard is to be constructed to boost access to neighbouring DR Congo by water.
The district is also working on a deal with the private investors to construct a modern abattoir in Kamembe to supply local and export market.
In mines and quarries the report indicates that there are still many unexploited potentials especially in the north such as pozzolan used in road construction, sand for glass and cassiterite in Gicumbi District. The south has Urugalika rock, clay, stone and sand.