* Commends renewed Rwanda-DRC relations
URUGWIRO VILLAGE - The visiting World Bank Group President, Robert Zoellick, has lauded the efforts the current leadership has put in to transform Rwanda from a country devastated by the 1994 Genocide to one of Africa’s most ambitious economies.
Addressing a Press conference at the World Bank Country office shortly after a tête-à-tête meeting with President Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village, Zoellick who has been in the country on a two-day visit said that Rwanda has had a remarkable recovery for the last 15 years, despite the many challenges the country is still facing.
“While I was preparing for my visit here, people were asking: Rwanda is a very ambitious country, so what would be the priorities here? My conclusion is as I leave Rwanda, we at the World Bank including IFC need to act with the same ambition that Rwanda has,”
“This is a country which is doing incredible things. People are very open about the challenges they face, and for us to be partners, we really have to match that ambition.” Zoellick said.
He cited the Lake Kivu Methane Gas Project which he had earlier visited saying it was one of the most ambitious projects aimed at boosting energy output much needed to support economic development.
“This is an interesting opportunity to boost energy; I actually talked with the energy minister about the possibility of linking that to the expansion of the energy grid so that a bigger percentage of Rwandans can access electricity.”
He noted that among the things he discussed with President Kagame, was on the importance of taking electricity to rural areas.
He explained that it is a major boost to economic transformation since it enables people to start economic activities which improve the lives and families.
“I also talked with the President and his team about the international efforts to improve agriculture security and how we can try to help with additional resources.”
Zoellick also pledged the bank’s continued support to initiatives aimed at creating a strong private sector, agriculture, education as well as regional integration initiatives, especially the East African Community, as the only way the country can fully integrate itself in development.
He said that the WB has committed over US $40m to initiatives to support the growth of the Private Sector arm while over $20m have already been invested in the past years, adding that the Private Sector in Rwanda has dynamic opportunities and needs more support to grow.
Zoellick added that Rwanda which is one of the 79 IDA (International Development Association) countries the WB provided with long term loans or grants, has continued to show aid effectiveness, where every dollar invested has had returns, prompting the WB to increase the funding by 60%.
“The allocation formula of IDA is based on need and performance and for the first year of IDA, the allocation for Rwanda has increased by 60% because it is one of the top performers. In terms of aid effectiveness, in terms of transparency, good governance, this is a country that scores very highly,” he said.
Zoellick who came to Rwanda from Kinshasa, particularly commended the renewed relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), adding that he discussed with Presidents Joseph Kabila and Kagame on how WB can come in to support economic development initiatives between the two countries, especially energy and infrastructure development.
Shortly after the meeting with President Kagame, Trade and Industry Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa told the press that the World Bank has also pledged to support Centres of Excellence on the continent aimed helping countries boost capacity, especially mid-level skills.
According to Nsanzabaganwa, they also discussed how to boost the tourism industry, support SME development as well as regional integration.