President Paul Kagame, yesterday, started a three-day tour of the Eastern Province where he’s rallying citizens in the fight against poverty, encouraging them to work harder and smarter to increase both production and incomes they need to improve their lives.
On the first leg of his tour, the Head of State met thousands of residents in Ngoma District at the playground of Teachers’ Training College in Zaza (TTC-Zaza).
He told the cheering crowd that he was in the area on a mission to talk to them about the need to fight poverty and improve lives, which he said will require both hard and smart work.
“To defeat poverty, we must work together to develop ourselves and begin by building on the resources we have,” he said.
“Our aim is for every Rwandan to earn a living and be self reliant,” Kagame added.
With a population of more than 380,000 people, Ngoma is among the ten poorest districts in the country even as it’s endowed with water resources like River Akagera and lakes Mugesera and Sake, which officials want to use for irrigation to boost agricultural production.
The Mayor of Ngoma District, Aphrodis Nambaje, said that efforts are underway to develop irrigation systems on about 1200 hectares of land using Akagera River, a project which is likely to help farmers increase their production.
The residents’ main activity is agriculture, growing mainly bananas, maize, pineapples, rice, and coffee, among other crops.
Challenges that the mayor currently wants addressed to boost the area’s development include building different roads in and around Kibungo city, building a three-star hotel in the city which still needs about Rwf 1.3 billion to be completed, as well as extending a fibre-optic network to Zaza sector to help many schools in the area access fast internet.
Several residents also told the President that they need access to potable water and reliable electricity, which remain rare in their neighbourhoods.
Others asked for the government to build more technical schools to train young people in different trades like carpentry and welding.
“We are happy to receive the President in our area. We want to benefit from the conversation with him because it’s through these meetings that we get many answers to our problems,” said Jean Marie Ntezimana, a 31-year-old village leader in Ngoma Sector.
Djamila Mukansekanabo, a local farmer in Ngoma District’s Mugesera Sector, said that she learns a lot from the President’s speeches when he visits local residents and she hoped he can address the issue of electricity in Mugesera.
“I am here to listen to the President. I enjoy seeing him and I learn a lot when I listen to him speak,” she said.
The President promised the residents that construction of Ngoma-Nyanza asphalt road will be fast-tracked, while he also advised members of the local private sector to invest in the provision of critical services that people in the area need such as transport and hotels.
Speaking on the same date dedicated to celebrating Girls in ICT, President Kagame called on all citizens to uphold equal rights for women and girls and challenged every citizen to join the HeforShe Campaign and reach a minimum of 500,000 signatures.
“A nation cannot develop without the equal participation of women and girls.Rwanda is proud that Rwandan women are now able to build their future as equal partners in Rwanda’s transformation,” Kagame said.
President Kagame ended his address by reminding citizens that security remains the foundation of all progress.
Referring to the Gallup Poll survey that ranked Rwanda as the safest nation in Africa and 5th safest in the world, President Kagame called on every citizen to play their role in ensuring every Rwandan security.
“Security is the foundation of anything we have and will achieve. It is the responsibility of each of us.Security must remain an integral part of what we stand for. It should not be an exception,” Kagame said.
“We lost one million people. It will never happen again. Losing any life to insecurity is unacceptable and not to be tolerated,” Kagame added.
The Head of State will also visit Kayonza and Nyagatare districts during his tour of the Eastern Province, which ends on Saturday.