Stakeholders in Rwanda’s development process are meeting in Rubavu District to deliberate on the best strategy to achieve the country’s growth goals.
The two-day retreat attracted development partners, representatives from the private sector and civil society as well as multi-national organisations and government officials.
According to Amb. Claver Gatete, the minister for finance and economic planning, the annual meeting serves to engage development partners on Rwanda’s next stage of development ambitions and how each partner can play a role.
“This time, we are focusing on our recently devised Vision 2050. We want our partners to give their take on this. We want to make sure that by the end of this year, we have heard from all Rwandans as well as development partners and as many experts as possible to have a clear view of where we are headed,” Gatete told The New Times.
This time round, Gatete said, the private sector and the civil society joined what had been customary known as the “donors’ retreat”, because they are influential in the tracking the newly adopted development plan.
The minister said Rwanda is headed toward a critical moment, where investments in key priority areas are vital, hence issues such as financial sector development would be discussed to ensure the private sector easily access finances to invest in such areas of importance.
Stephen Ruzibiza, the chief executive of Private Sector Federation (PSF), recommended the move to bring on board the private sector, stating that it was timely since the government wants the private sector to play a more active role in priority-area investments.
“These (brainstorming on development agenda) meetings are strategic and the private sector can’t just stay aside. If we are talking about public-private partnerships, that means there is private sector embedded in the process,” Ruzibiza said.
“Several projects have been set aside for private sector to take the driving seat, such as energy, service and hospitality, mining among others. We need to find where we fit and how easily we can finance these projects for seamless implementation of such endeavours such as public-private partnerships.”
During the meeting, Minister Gatete added that development partners would give their take on how Rwanda can streamline its financial sector to enable investment promotion, as well as how to support capacity building for skills development, which will in the long run help deliver the 2050 agenda.
“We expect as many investments as possible in the coming years, but this can only be made possible with flexible financial access mechanisms, this means low interest rates and other favourable monetary policies,” Gatete said.
Streamling donor funding
The minister added that, over the two days, they will also discuss how to streamline the ever-declining international donor funding.
“International donor support has been declining in the recent past and, therefore, we need to set up new mechanisms to make sure that what we generate from international donors serves key priority sectors, while preparing ourselves to move on from these donations and sustain our development projects from within.
“Our ultimate goal is to achieve sustainable development; this can only be reached when we have financial freedom to finance our own development agenda”
Rwanda has moved from complete reliance on foreign aid for its Budget in 1994 to covering up more than 60 per cent of the current fiscal year Budget.
“One other thing we want to discuss with our development partners is how we can work together to move on from donation to sustainably finance our budget 100 per cent. I think it is important that we start looking at those reforms as we set out new development targets and plans,” Gatete said.
Yasser El- Gammal, the World Bank Group country manager and co-chair of the Government and Development partners collaboration group, lauded Rwanda for “efficient” utilisation of donor funds, adding that they (development partners) are willing to contribute toward pursuit of the next development footprint.
“It is not a secret that Rwanda is one of the countries performing well in terms of achieving poverty reduction targets, enhancing social levels of people and social indicators, and it is one of the countries that effectively utilises overseas development assistance. Also, Rwanda has in place very good structures to deal with development partners,” Yasser said.
“We want to know where Rwanda is headed, brainstorm together the next stage (during which Rwanda wants to move into middle income status) and what does that entail and what resources need to be mobilised, as well as areas to be focused on. We are taking off our institutional hats and discussing as development professionals to be able to contribute to the great thinking that is happening in Rwanda.”
Speaking about the next seven-year development agenda and Vision 2050, Yasser said that although the Government has performed well on different local and international development parameters, the country faces what he described as “second generation issues,” which require critical consideration on issues such as agro-processing, infrastructure and service sectors.