World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick has said Rwanda has made remarkable progress since 1994, and illustrates for countries emerging from conflict the importance of reform and enhancing governance and the rule of law to foster peace, reconciliation and reconstruction.
“Strong political will and commitment from a visionary leadership are some of the most indispensable pillars on which development can be jump-started, as emergency humanitarian relief operations wind down in post-conflict settings, and long-term reconstruction begins,” Zoellick said, wrapping up a two-day visit to Rwanda during which he met with President Paul Kagame and some of Rwanda’s key cabinet ministers.
The World Bank president said good governance of natural resources that curbs illicit trade in precious metals and ensures would yield a substantial peace dividend and boost development.
He added this is especially if governments focus on achieving food security, protecting and empowering women and children and promoting the access of the poor and conflict-affected to basic services, such as education, health, housing, and jobs.
Impressed with Rwanda’s progress in reconstruction after the 1994 genocide, Zoellick discussed with the government the importance of prioritizing and sequencing reforms, along with strengthening institutional requirements for successful reform implementation.
At a round table discussion with the Minister of Finance, James Musoni, and other key ministers, Zoellick learned of the many challenges the Rwandan government faces to achieve sustained growth.
He pledged continued World Bank support to help Rwanda address the challenges associated with achieving food security in a country whose agricultural sector faces hurdles such as hilly terrain and poor land husbandry.
“The World Bank is committed to supporting regional trade facilitation in the context of improving the overall business environment and reducing barriers to trade through regional projects such as the East Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Project,” Zoellick said.
He met in Kigali with ministers for the East African Community (EAC). He also praised the renewed cooperation between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)) to address regional security and instability in the eastern Congo.
While visiting the Lake Kivu Methane Gas to Power Pilot plant, Zoellick sought to learn more about the importance for African countries of the potential for hydropower, solar, wind power and other new renewable resources within the continent’s energy portfolio.
The rural poor form the bulk of the 535 million Africans currently without access to electricity.
He commended Rwanda for developing a viable gas to electricity process, and for Rwanda’s planned cooperation with the DRC in developing and sharing energy generated from Lake Kivu.
The World Bank president also met and interacted with ex-combatant Rwandans who were severely disabled during the civil war.
He visited their housing scheme funded by the World Bank under the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Project and exchanged views with the ex-combatants on reintegration, alternative livelihoods and development.
In meetings with representatives of the private sector and civil society organizations (CSOs), Zoellick underscored the important role of the private sector in jobs and growth.
He urged both the private sector and CSOs to seek greater cooperation with the government to achieve targeted, sustainable development objectives.
Zoellick also touched on the growing role in Rwanda of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank Group’s private sector arm, and the services it can offer.
This was Zoellick’s first visit to Rwanda as president of the World Bank Group, although he has visited Rwanda on other occasions over 20 years.
It was also the second stop of a three-country Africa tour that has taken him to DRC and that will culminate Thursday with a visit to Uganda.
He was accompanied by the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili.