KIGALI - The World Bank yesterday announced its assistance strategy for Rwanda in the next four years with an estimated US$ 560 million projected to be disbursed in grants to support the country’s social and economic development.
The bank’s Country Manager, Victoria Kwakwa, presented the bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) to the press and other members of the civil society at her offices in Kiyovu, Kigali City.
The plan was prepared in collaboration with the government in consultation with the civil society and other development partners.
The bank describes Rwanda as a country that is making ‘remarkable progress’ since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi but stresses the need to increase its growth rates to reduce poverty.
The country’s economy has for the past few years been growing a steady 7 percent annually but the government has projected it to grow by 10 percent by the end of next year.
“Clearly you can see that the economy is growing…we assess Rwanda as a good performer,” Kwakwa said as she interacted with members of the civil society after presenting the Bank’s assistance plan.
The programme that extends from mid 2008 up to the middle of 2012 will mainly focus on raising agricultural production, infrastructural development for economic services, uplift the private sector, and support the country’s poorest regions.
Kwakwa said the WB’s funds will be disbursed through direct budget support prepared by the government and by supporting it run projects aimed at reducing poverty and developing the private sector.
“The sustainable way of creating jobs is through developing the Private Sector,” she said as she reacted to a question that the bank is not supporting job creation initiatives among private people.
Both Eric Manzi, the Secretary General of Workers’ Trade Union Confederation (CESTRAR) and Frank Mukama who leads a youth empowerment organisation known as ‘Yes Rwanda’ criticized the bank for not directly supporting independent groups in the country by only keeping focus on funding the government’s major programmes.
Kwakwa said the bank’s strategy for creating jobs is to help the government to build a good environment for the private sector to grow and to build an infrastructure that eases business for private operators.
“You can not artificially create jobs,” she said.
Among government’s projects to benefit from the World Bank grant for the next four years include the exploitation of Lake Kivu Methane gas, building a Hydro-electric power centre on Rusumo Falls in partnership with other regional countries, build rural roads, and communications infrastructure.
The Bank also plans to source out more funds to support Rwanda from non-traditional donors like the governments of China, India, and some charitable groups.