KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has said that infrastructure projects should top the agenda at the ongoing seventh Development Partners’ Meeting at Kigali Serena Hotel. He was yesterday opening the two-day meeting bringing together top government leaders and development partners including UN agencies, donor countries and NGOs. The President said that without sufficient infrastructure such as roads, especially in rural areas, agricultural transformation would remain a challenge.
“We need better rural roads for improved domestic trade as well as national and regional transport networks for global markets…the indispensable role of infrastructure in national development does not need any elaboration, we simply must have these if we are to reduce the costs of doing business,” he said.
Kagame said that Rwanda’s recent entry into the East African Community (EAC) should permit more collaborative efforts with development partners in terms of improving road transportation. “Associated services such as border crossings should also become seamless.”
The two-day annual meeting is being held under the theme ‘Stimulating Growth for Poverty Reduction.’
Participants will specifically measure methodologies of economic development using the recently adopted Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) as a yardstick.
Kagame also reiterated good governance as an essential pillar in the development process, giving an example of decentralisation. “In this respect, we continue to empower Rwandan districts so that they are able to conceive and execute their development policies on the basis of locally mobilised resources,” he said.
He said that was the reason behind consistent and progressive increase of transfers of funds to districts from Frw5b in 2003 to Frw72 billion currently, and over Frw100 billion projected for next year.
Kagame also said that empowering the private sector with equitable human resource should be prioritised.
He dismissed reports of income inequality in Rwanda.
He said: “There has been sometimes a lot of talk about income inequalities…however, the biggest problem is that there has been no income at all.”
Moustapha Somare, the UN Resident Coordinator, who spoke on behalf of the development partners, said that President Kagame’s determination to steer forward the country both economically and socially should be an example for others to follow. Speaking about the EDPRS, Somare said: “Through this process, Rwanda has designed for itself a roadmap towards the targets set out in Vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals. The EDPRS is an inspiring document that presents a realistic diagnosis along with an ambitious yet credible plan for Rwanda’s development over the medium term.”
The EDPRS is a five-year development programme in the indicators outlined in the MDGs is supposed to end in 2012.
The MDGs are set to have been achieved by 2015.
Meanwhile, a report presented by the Director General of National Institute of Statistics, Dr Louis Munyakazi, indicated that Rwanda ranked high in success stories regarding the implementation of MDGs.
In the five sectors – agriculture, healthcare, education, good governance, access to water and sanitation – Rwanda leads in two overall.
Rwanda is ranked top in Africa both in the fields of women representation in the decision making authorities and malaria control. The visiting British Minister for International Development, Shriti Vadera, emphasised that the growth of the private sector is necessary for long term poverty reduction.
Development partners are expected will make official statements in response to government presentations, before the meeting ends later today.