France, through its development bank, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and Rwanda on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 signed two financing agreements worth €49.5 million (Rwf54 billion) that will support Rwanda's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The agreements were signed by Uzziel Ndagijimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and economic planning and Jeremie Blin, Chargé d'affaires of France to Rwanda in Kigali.
The event was also joined virtually by Rémy Rioux, AFD’s CEO.
This signing marks an important step in the revival of relations between the two countries, after frosty relations in the past.
In June last year, Rioux was in Rwanda where he met President Paul Kagame and the finance minister to discuss relations and cooperation of both countries. The visit was the first re-engagement of the French agency with Rwanda since 1992.
The first agreement, said Minister Ndagijimana, consists of a €40 million concessional budget loan (about Frw 42.5 billion) which will support the country’s strategy to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as well as the economic recovery plan.
According to the agreement, the biggest share will go into prevention measures against COVID-19, upgrading diagnostic capacities and treatment of patients such as setting up more treatment referral points.
On the social protection side, Blin said that the facility will reach more than 620,000 Rwandans who are most affected. Some of the activities include handing out cash or providing work to vulnerable households, extending access to nutrition programs to pregnant women, and providing health insurance for more than 1.9 million people.
The projects “are part of a revival dynamic for our two countries partnership”, said Rioux, AFD CEO. His remark was echoed by Minister Ndagijimana who noted that the signing is the “beginning of a much stronger collaboration to come between both countries.”
The loan will be paid in a period of 26 years, on an interest rate below 0 percent, said the Minister.
In addition to the €40 million budget loan, AFD pledged a grant of €2 million (about Frw 2.1 billion) to the Rwanda Red Cross Society and Rwandan Authorities that will also support households hit by the pandemic.
Minister Ndagijimana said the second agreement, a € 5.8 million (about Rwf 6 billion) grant will add to the country’s effort to develop its vocational training system in order to drive youth employment through Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRCs).
During the event, French authorities highlighted the need to reinforce the teaching of French in Rwandan schools. Meanwhile, an extra €1.7 million will go to a French Operator Expertise France to provide technical assistance to Rwanda Polytechnic.
AFD said its support will provide flexibility to allow the government of Rwanda to adapt allocation of resources as the disease evolves.
Without disclosing individual details, the finance minister said that Rwanda and France have in the pipeline other collaboration projects in energy, education and digital technology which are expected to strengthen their relations.Follow Mugisha_Cosma