Initiatives taken by Rwanda to promote sanitation will boost her tourism receipts, according to a World Bank official.
Rwanda has been ranked among the best four countries in Africa that have hit the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by improving sanitation ranking to 58 percent, eight percentage points higher than the MDG’S threshold of 50 percent.
Yolande Coombes, World Bank’s senior sanitation and hygiene specialist highlighted that Rwanda’s performance in sanitation and hygiene has exposed it to greater opportunities especially in the tourism sector.
The tourism sector fetched US$56 million (Rwf33 billion) for the country in the first quarter of 2011, up from US$43 million in the same period last year.
Rwanda recently won an international accolades for having the best tourist destination for gorillas during the launch of The Africa Competitiveness Report 2011 in Cape Town South Africa.
Coombes noted that Africa is losing a lot of tourism revenue due to poor sanitation that scares away tourists.
“There are very many things tourists consider when they are going to visit the country, many tourists don’t want to come to Africa because they fear diarrhea. Once they have an impression it is very hard to change them,” she said
She noted that by investing in sanitation, African countries would increase their revenue receipts.
“Many countries particularly in East Africa, like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, can earn up to eight or nine percent of their GDP, some countries go up as high as 15 percent, so a one or two percent increase in tourism would pay for your sanitation.”
“This means that one percent from GDP can be invested in sanitation, so it is not how much you invest in sanitation but how much you lose for not investing”, she said, while speaking to business times yesterday (today).
State Minister for Energy and Water, Coletha Ruhamya, said that Rwanda has taken made greater strides towards achieving the MDGs, especially sanitation and hygiene.
“Through our policies and programmes like Umuganda and involving the private sector we are able to achieve 58 percent in meeting the millennium goals of improved sanitation.”
The Minister said because of Rwanda’s success stories in sanitation; it has been selected to host this year’s third African conference on sanitation—Africasan3—slated for July 19-21.