President Paul Kagame has reflected on the country’s strong economic performance in 2013, highlighting major achievements in investments, mining and poverty alleviation.
He was yesterday delivering a combined State of The Nation and End of Year address to a joint session of both the deputies and senators at Parliament Buildings in Kimihurura, Kigali.
“Rwanda has achieved the kind of stability that allows Rwandans to feel safe anywhere and at any time in the country,” Kagame said, citing the prevailing peace and security.
He said the economy grew 6.6 per cent in the first half of this year.
“It isn’t only about figures; the standard of living of Rwandans has been improving every year,” he added.
In comparison to last year, the country made a 27.2 per cent increase in exports, with the export value from January to October, this year, standing at $489 million (about Rwf329 billion), mostly from agricultural products, he said.
“Rwanda’s coffee and tea continue to be ranked among the best globally and agriculture is anticipated to grow by over 5 per cent,” the President said, rooting for further improvements in both quantity and quality of the two main cash crops.
Kagame said both foreign and domestic investments increased this year, with investments in the first six months of 2013, hitting Rwf456 billion, as opposed to Rwf538 billion recorded in the whole of 2012.
Noting that the country’s economy still hinges on agriculture, the Head of State cited the launch of the East African Commodities Exchange, which will help provide farmers with ready market.
The mining sector also witnessed increase in revenue, fetching Rwf30 billion this year, while receipts from tourism sector increased by 4 per cent with the over 714,000 recorded visitors bringing into the economy $217 million.
President Kagame said home-grown initiatives continued to change lives, particularly singling out the Girinka (One-Cow-Per-Poor-family) programme, which he said has provided 184,000 households with a cow, and, in effect, boosted nutrition of beneficiaries and the anti-poverty campaign.
“It (Girinka) has helped many Rwandans to get out of poverty and improved their diet,” he said.
Improvements were also recorded in the education sector, with the number of students going to school increasing by 7 per cent in primary schools, 6 per cent in secondary schools and 10 per cent in tertiary education.
Kagame also said government continued to prioritise the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), now with a budget of Rwf30.5 billion, and that this hands-on training approach had seen an increase of 15 per cent in its student enrolment.
The Head of State also cited accomplishments in the health sector, saying women giving birth in hospital increased to 86 per cent and child mortality decreased by 95 per cent.
However, he said there was urgent need to scale up electricity provision and customer service because the two were critical to the delivery of the national economic agenda.
“We need electricity very quickly if we want to develop,” he said, in apparent reference to continued power disruptions across the country, including in the City of Kigali, which had a prolonged blackout on Sunday night.
On service delivery, the President said there was relative improvement but the progress hitherto left a lot to be desired.
Kagame said Rwandans were set to achieve more good services in the future if they continued to work together as a united, dignified people.
“As we celebrate our accomplishments, we must remember that Agaciro (dignity) must remain central to our development,” he said, before wishing Rwandans a prosperous 2014.
“In the past 20 years, we have surmounted many challenges together, with unity and strength.”