Musanze - Musanze District has made positive strides in terms of infrastructure development and poverty eradication.
Despite having been dogged by pockets of rebel infiltration before total security was established , the district is now on a path of recovery.
It boasts of 12 hotels, four feeder roads and five rapidly developing commercial centres.
The New Times’ BONNY MUKOMBOZI spoke to Celestin Kalabayinga, the district Mayor, about what has inspired this positive trend of growth as well as the challenges faced by the local authorities..
TNT: What do you attribute to the positive changes Musanze has registered in the last decade and half?
Mayor: The journey has been long and challenging, but mind set change has been paramount-- that is change from negative to positive thinking in regards to adopting new policies and ideas.
When people embarked on productive activities, crop production intensification, income generating activities, rehabilitation of the houses, Musanze gained a different face.
Good mobilisation of the leaders especially in implementing government programmes of agricultural transformation, midugudu settlement, forming cooperatives, savings and security of people and their property are some of the new policies which have now been embraced by the citizens.
TNT: What are the outstanding challenges to reaching a set-off level of development and scaling down poverty?
Mayor: Rural communities should shift from traditional farming activities, in order to widen their income generating avenues, at the same time commercialise their agro-related products.
Illiteracy, within the rural population is a big challenge. That is why education for all children and adult literacy programmes is now a priority.
We have two public universities, academies and scientific research centres which we need to utilise.
We need to eradicate traditional concepts attached to bad cultural practices in families in regards to child bearing, family habitation as well as consolidating land for the purposes of growing more crops.
Women should stop being house wives, and become players in economic development.
TNT: Talk about the district’s future development plans.
Mayor: We want to develop a private public partnership mode of economic development .In this framework businessmen will be the key drivers of growth which should boost job creation opportunities for a larger segment of the population.
At the lower levels every sector is encouraged to form a credit and savings cooperative-Umurenge SACCO; this will support the savings and investment which will pave way for business in the rural areas to thrive.
Ruhengeri town, is located near Kisoro-Uganda, Goma-DR Congo, which are all business centres, we need to utilise this opportunity to make it a business hub in the region.