Leadership Retreat to strategise 11.5% growth

Close to 300 leaders will today head to Gabiro School of Infantry in the Eastern Province for the 10th National Leadership Retreat that gets underway tomorrow through Saturday.
Local leaders heading for the National Retreat last year. The New Times/John Mbanda.
Local leaders heading for the National Retreat last year. The New Times/John Mbanda.

Close to 300 leaders will today head to Gabiro School of Infantry in the Eastern Province for the 10th National Leadership Retreat that gets underway tomorrow through Saturday.

Held annually, the retreat brings together leaders from the central to local government, to reflect on the achievements and challenges over the past year as well as set the priorities of the new year.

According to the Minister in Charge of Cabinet Affairs, Protais Musoni, the focus this time round is to strategise effective implementation of the goals that are outlined in the ambitious five-year economic agenda, the EDPRS II which was launched last year.

The target is to ensure that the economy grows by an average 11.5 per cent during the implementation period of this strategy, leapfrogging the average 8.2 per cent growth registered over the last decade.

“The major purpose of this year’s retreat is to create a shared understanding of strategies to deliver EDPRS II targets, especially the target of 11.5 per cent average annual growth rate of GDP,” Musoni said during an exclusive interview with The New Times yesterday.

Some of the areas that the high-level gathering will look into according to reliable information, include how to enable a private sector-led economic growth, putting in place the infrastructure to facilitate the desired growth, and having the required human resource to implement this strategy.

Concerning human resource development, the retreat, which will be chaired by President Paul Kagame, is expected to dissect a report showcasing critical and scarce skills in the country, which specifically outlines challenges, including the negative attitude towards the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a career pathway.

Other areas to be discussed are the weak industrial linkages between the private and public sectors, which leads, in some instances, to churning out of graduates by academic institutions who are either irrelevant or not tailored to the needs of the labour market.

“We need to think hard on what needs to be done, where need be, we will have to change the way we operate to ensure that we achieve our desired goal and I have no doubt we will get where we want,” said Musoni.

The overriding objective is to double the GDP per capita from the current $600 to $1,240 in the year 2020, according the EDPRS concept paper.

“The retreat not only helps put us on track for different development programmes, it also promotes a spirit of teamwork among the nation’s leaders, which inevitably boosts efficiency,” the minister said, underlining the importance of the retreat.

Last year’s retreat emphasised on priority areas namely, improving service delivery, job creation, agricultural transformation and energy.

According to Musoni, despite the problems attributed to some development partners who withheld aid, a lot was achieved because of the implementation strategies employed.

Delivering 11.5 per cent growth

While this increase in growth may be seen as farfetched, especially amid global economic uncertainties, an economist who has closely monitored Rwanda’s economic growth for the past few years says this is well within reach going by the country’s track record.

“The economy of this country has been progressive.  With good policies, the 11.5 per cent can be achieved. But this is not something to be done in a fortnight. You need to strategise and this government has been good at that,” said Dr Josephat Bosire Kerosi, a senior lecturer at Mt Kenya University-Kigali campus.

Kerosi said one of the main enablers for such growth is increasing the national tax-base through certain incentives for those businesses that target to employ many people.

Dr Kerosi noted that another enabler that could see a significant widening of the nation’s tax bracket is the optimisation of resources, especially in the housing sector, where he said investments are being made in non-productive ventures.

“Resources are not being utilised optimally when almost all the working class rush to banks to get loans, of say Rwf100 million each, from a bank for building a house for residential purposes. This money can be better invested, in say, commercialised housing units or something else that gives returns on investment,” Kerosi said. 

Concerning optimum utilisation of resources, the government seems to be on the right track.

For the second time in a row, the retreat is being held from a government facility, contrary to previous years when it was held in pricey hotels.

And this, according to Musoni, is another way of efficient utilisation of national resources, to ensure that priority areas get the requisite budget.

Last year’s retreat was held in Rwanda Military Academy, Gako, in Bugesera.

According to Musoni, this is effective in a way that, any investment– infrastructure or otherwise – made in preparing the facility to suitably host the leaders, will remain even after the retreat.

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