Government says it will continue to focus on achieving sustainable economic growth and alleviating poverty to consolidate the strong achievements registered in the last 10 years of reconstruction of the economy.
Despite the impact of the global financial crisis, Rwanda’s economy has been resilient growing by 6 percent last year.
Ministry of Finance projections indicate that the economy will grow by 7 percent this year.
Addressing a press conference, Tuesday, ahead of the country’s celebration of 16 years of liberation, John Rwangombwa the Finance Minister said that over the last decade (1999-2009), Gross Domestic Product (GDP has averaged around 8 percent per year, oscillate between 13.2 percent and 2.2 percent.
“So far the track record we have is solid. The experience we have gained in implementing our development plans gives us confidence that going forward we will be able to consolidate these achievements,” Rwangombwa said.
“We have achieved this much with little capacity, with little experience in planning and implementing,” he added.
In the first five years of the decade (2000-2010) Rwanda registered an average growth rate of 8.2 percent and averaged 7.6 percent in the final seven years.
GDP per capita – which is the share of individual members of the population to the annual GDP – has moved in line with GDP growth to reach $520 in 2009, an increase of 115 percent from $242 in 1999.
“The fact that we now have an economy that has developed to the extent of contributing more than 50 percent of the budget resources, gives us confidence that we will be able to consolidate these achievements,” Rwangombwa said.
He said government expects an improved situation in terms of poverty reduction due to implementation of various specific programmes including One Cow per poor household, Umurenge Vision 2020 and the crop intensification programme that target the poor.
However, he said government is yet to carry out a household survey this year to establish figures in terms of improving lives.
“After the survey we will come with even stronger plans that will help us to move forward.”
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry pointed out government’s extensive plans to transform agriculture from being predominately subsistence to commercial.
This includes rolling out of land consolidation and the crop intensification programmes which has seen an improvement in the use of fertilizers, use of better quality seeds and planting techniques. It also includes setting up food storage facilities mostly on local level, and supporting agro-processing.
“All this will ensure that whoever is in agriculture is doing it as a business. We are talking about creating employment but not in agriculture; it is creating employment off agriculture so that whoever stays in agriculture does it as a more profitable business,” Kalibata said.
She said government is supporting farmers to access credit through the Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) as well as easy access to farm inputs including modern machinery to support transformation of the sector.
Since 2007, government began paying subsidies to farmers to buy fertilizer and seeds, with those getting financial support farming 40 percent of the country’s arable land.
The healthy growth in Agriculture, which is the largest source of employment for many Rwandans, has helped to propel the economy to higher growth rates.