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Presidential Advisory Council meets, discusses post-Covid recovery

Members of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) on Wednesday urged government to put major focus on digital technologies and new areas that will drive the economy and transformation.

This is according to Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), who was part of a meeting that was chaired by President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro.

 

“The meeting discussed the digital transformation of the country, and they gave advice on improving logistics and distribution because that is how we address issues around post-Covid,” she revealed.

 

She added that the members, most of whom are from the private sector and academia, told the government to pay attention to transformational agriculture, as well as improve food security.

 

“The meeting also tackled how we can take advantage of the new sectors such as the Kigali International Financial Centre, and how that is important to build resilience in the long-term,” she noted.

According to Akamanzi, members similarly gave tips on how leaders can position Rwanda in a global arena so that the country can win more partners to work with towards the country's growth journey.

The meeting generally focused on mitigating the effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

Joe Ritchie, a longtime advisor of Kagame and RDB’s first chief executive officer, co-chaired the meeting, which brought together renowned members of the Advisory Council.

The meeting normally happens once or twice a year, and focuses on topics that are relevant to Rwanda at a time.

This was the 13th year the President was hosting the meeting, which was held virtually.

Who attended?

Members who attended include Andrea Redmond, Ashish Thakkar, Christian Angermayer, Clet Niyikiza, Dale Dawson, Doug Shears, Kaia Miller, Mike Fairbanks, Michael Roux, and Paul Davenport.

Others are American evangelist Pastor Rick Warren, a close friend of Rwanda, Scott Ford, Sir David King, Rod Reynolds and a team of Rwanda experts including Donald Kaberuka, Éliane Ubalijoro, and Bishop John Rucyahana.

The council normally invites select leaders from the government, including ministers of Finance and Economic Planning, Infrastructure, Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Health.

The rest comes from RDB, Rwanda Mines, Gas and Petroleum Board (RMB), as well as the National Bank of Rwanda.

This time around, the council hosted Dr. Senait Fisseha and Louise Mushikiwabo, the Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, as special guests.

Fisseha is professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, and head of global programmes at the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation.

The foundation has just opened its Africa headquarters here in Rwanda. Dr Senait is also chief adviser to the head of the World Health Organisation.

The focus

According to Akamanzi, two presentations were made by the Ministers of Health Daniel Ngamije, and Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana.

Ngamije updated members about Rwanda’s rapid response to the pandemic, highlighting a Covid-19 taskforce that was created by President Kagame, as well as initiatives such as pool testing, and use of robots, drones and digital bracelets in management of the pandemic.

Akamanzi said that Rwanda plans to adopt antigen rapid tests which are believed to be 90 per cent cheaper and efficient as opposed to Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Ndagijimana, on the other hand, shared the government’s lessons from the pandemic, highlighting good governance as a key example.

“The key lesson was that good governance was important. It was easier to manage Covid-19 because of the trust that citizens have in their leaders,” Akamanzi said.

Rwanda decided to continue to invest in the healthcare sector to build resilience through directing resources to things like e-health, another key lesson Covid-19 taught leaders.

jbizimungu@newtimesrwanda.com

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