President Paul Kagame this morning delivered the State of the Nation Address, stating that the country has grown stronger over the last one year.
He also used the occasion to open this year’s National Dialogue Council (Umushyikirano), which has attracted over 2000 participants from across Rwanda and among Rwandan communities abroad.
The President said that, after a period of slow growth, agricultural production grew by 8 per cent this year, despite challenges such as the armyworm and drought in some parts of the country.
He thanked citizens for their contribution in increasing agriculture production. “The hard work of citizens has really paid off and I wish to thank you for this and ask you to keep it up”.
Addressing the gathering at Kigali Convention Centre, Kagame said that the Made-in-Rwanda strategy has already boosted production, with exports increasing by 50 per cent, while imports dropped by 3 per cent.
As a result, our trade deficit fell by more than 20 per cent, he said.
President Kagame said that more than 8,000 new manufacturing jobs were created this year and promised that his government will continue to build on this to bring about further gains.
He said that US$1.5 billion dollars in new investment and infrastructure deals were registered in 2017, including the ongoing construction of a new international airport in Bugesera, south of the capital Kigali.
Kagame also said that the country’s conference tourism strategy is bearing fruit, adding that Rwanda hosted 169 international meetings this year “which brought tens of thousands of customers to our hotels, restaurants and our national airline.”
Rwanda’s electricity supply continues to grow, he said. “To stimulate demand for that power, government will work with industrial investors to ensure a competitive tariff.”
The Head of State told the nation that mineral exports now exceed the value of all other exports, combined. This is attributable, in part, to more effort in value addition and new exploration, he said.
It is encouraging to note that graduates are also finding entrepreneurial success in agribusiness, Kagame noted. “I call on more young people, to consider the opportunities in this sector.”
We will continue to document and preserve our history, and to pursue accountability for ourselves, and others, where necessary, he told thousands of delegates at the meeting.
Kagame underlined the need to continue consolidating the gains the country has made in peace and security. “We cannot take our gains, or our future prosperity, for granted. Peace, security, and national cohesion are not irreversible.”
The President also opened the annual Umushyikirano 2017 edition, whose theme revolves around the next development agenda, prosperity values and the need to place the youth at the heart of the transformation blueprint.
The event is also being attended by delegates from several African countries, while some 3000 youths attending this year’s YouthConnekt Convention that opened yesterday at Petit Stade in Remera, Kigali, will also follow the proceedings and have a chance to share their views via video link.
The annual Umushyikirano is being televised and streamed online while viewers and listeners will also participate through live text messages, social media platforms as well as from gathering of residents in Nyamasheke, Musanze and Gatsibo who will join in via video conferencing.