The civil society has urged the European Union Delegation to enhance trade ties with Rwanda.
This was during a debate and interaction programme at Goethe Institute in Kiyovu on Wednesday.
The debate was organised by the Delegation of the European Union to Rwanda to evaluate the role EU plays in improving lives of Rwandans.
Panelists for the debate were Prof Manasseh Nshuti, a former Cabinet minister, an economist and financial expert; Annie Kairaba, the director-general of Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development; and James Gahinga, a journalist with Flash FM.
Amb Michael Ryan, the head of EU Delegation to Rwanda, moderated the debate.
Prof Nshuti urged the EU to enhance trade relations thus promote financial independence.
“We need to develop the capacity to substitute aid for something and, for our case, we need to be trading. We need to be trading to give capacity to our people not to be depending on aid.
We need to be equal partners and through trade we can achieve it,” Nshuti said.
“If only my mother’s bananas are allowed into the European Union markets without any barriers like tariffs or non-tariff barriers, she would be earning and would not need any dollar from aid.”
Amb. Ryan said the debate is ideal for the EU to evaluate and share its work in the country.
“We have been a partner to Rwanda for roughly 30 years. In our partnership what we aim at achieving is poverty alleviation but, above all, security and stability. We have great interest in having prosperity spread to our neighbourhoods through programmes that are meaningful to make the populations more secure and confident in their economic and political preferences,” Ryan said.
He added that EU’s main economic development programme funding currently focuses on energy, agriculture and food security, governance and economic accountability, as well as political accountability.
“In the case of Rwanda, we have almost the delightful pleasure of working in a system that is perfectly designed to create partnerships with an organisation like ours which seeks to channel funds and ideas in particular projects.”
Kairaba stressed the need for EU to ease their processes and systems.
“We need to dialogue more. When we are invited by EU to discuss about the roadmap, we don’t take it lightly because it demonstrates genuine partnership. We are not told that ‘this is what we want’ during the roadmap meetings. We are discussing and engaging and this benefits people at the grassroots,” Kairaba said.