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United Kingdom minister visits Rwanda to strengthen bilateral ties

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The British minister for the Department for International Development (DFID) arrived in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Monday to further cement bilateral relations with the small central African country.

Upon his arrival, James Wharton, travelled to Musanze district, Northern Province, where he met with the governor of the province and the district mayor, as well as toured UK-funded development and social protection programs.

Wharton is visiting Rwanda for the first time since he took office in July this year.

According to a statement from the UK High Commission, the visit will focus on areas of mutual interest between the two countries, including poverty reduction, education, trade and investment.

The trip is viewed as a positive step towards improving trade and economic cooperation between the two nations.

During his visit, Wharton, who oversees development aid in Africa, will hold bilateral talks with several Rwanda government officials.

"I am looking forward to seeing first-hand the remarkable progress that Rwanda has made over the last twenty years. I am proud that the UK has been able to support Rwanda on this journey—contributing to its achievement of lifting over 1.5 million people out of poverty in recent years," said Wharton in a statement.

He stated that UK plans to maintain its commitment to support Rwanda and the region for mutual interest between the two parties.

Rwanda is one of 19 African countries that is a member of the Commonwealth.

The UK, through the DFID, is one of Rwanda’s largest bilateral development partners and key backers of the country’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRSII).

Kigali has won international praise over the years for its effective use of aid that has allowed the country to turn around its economy following the 1994 genocide.

UK provides nearly 70 million pounds a year through DFID aimed at economic and social transformation of Rwanda.


Rwanda and UK launch project to improve agriculture production

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- A new project aimed at improving Rwanda’s agriculture sector through commercialized farming was launched Tuesday by the government of Rwanda and the British government.

The six-year project worth 23.5 million pounds (about 30.55 million U.S. dollars), was unveiled by visiting British Minister for the Department for International Development (DFID) James Wharton at the Kigali Convention Centre in the Rwandan capital.

The venture, dubbed Improving Market Systems for Agriculture in Rwanda (IMSAR), is funded by the British government through DFID. It will focus on increasing the income of poor households in targeted agricultural market systems.

Speaking to reporters after the launch, Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwanda minister of agriculture and animal resources, said that Rwanda has embarked on a campaign to transform agriculture from subsistence farming to commercial farming by sensitizing its citizens about farming techniques to increase productivity.

Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for a third of the country’s GDP, employing about 80 percent of the total population. It contributes 47 percent of Rwanda’s domestic goods and exports.

Rwanda sets up national body to promote cross-border trade

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has set up a national committee that will promote cross-border trade through strengthening areas of transparency and fairness, good governance and modernization of the trade supply chain.

The national panel, dubbed National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), was unveiled on Friday by the ministry of trade and industry in the country’s capital, Kigali.

The committee has been introduced in line with the World Trade Organization pact, which aims at easing customs norms for faster clearance of goods to boost exports.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the launch, Francois Kanimba, Rwanda minister of trade and industry, said that trade facilitations have gained more importance with the reduction of tariffs and the proliferation of global production chains.

"The committee will play a key role in the coordination of implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement at national level.

"The panel seeks to simplify trade procedures and help promote cross-border trade and the overall climate for trade and investment in Rwanda," he added.

According to trade experts, the NTFC has a huge potential to reduce trade costs, thereby boosting trade between Rwanda and trade partners across the globe.

The Global Competitiveness report 2016/17 published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) early this week shows that Rwanda improved six positions to rank 52nd out of 138 countries globally.

The country also remains third in Africa after Mauritius and South Africa.


Rwanda and UN launch joint drive to help refugees become self-reliant

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The Rwandan government and the UN’s refugee agency announced a new joint strategy on Monday geared to help refugees live productive lives despite their status.

The 2016-2020 strategy seeks to ensure that all refugees and neighbouring communities are afforded ways to become self-reliant and able to contribute to the economic development of the host nation.

Speaking at the launch, Jacob Oster, livelihoods officer at UNHCR, said the strategy would make refugee camps vibrant socially and economically with active markets, shops, restaurants, and cottage factories run by refugees and host communities.

This would create jobs for host communities within and beyond the districts where refugee camps are situated, he said.

Rwanda is home to more than 150,000 refugees of various nationalities living in six camps spread across the country.

The move comes days after world leaders at the UN General Assembly made a similar proposal to support 21 million refugees as well as more than 40 million internally displaced people worldwide.

Under the project, Rwanda and the UNHCR would partner with private sector federation and individual companies to set up cottage industries for the production of goods and services required by refugees and host communities while offering jobs to people with marketable skills.

The overall aim is to wean refugees or host community members off humanitarian aid.

Seraphine Mukantabana, Rwanda’s minister of disaster management and refugee affairs, described the launch as timely and in line with her country’s commitment to receive refugees and make them as comfortable as possible.

The development supplements another program that enables refugees in Rwanda to acquire degrees from U.S. universities through Kepler University in Kigali.

Rwanda seeks more investments in manufacturing sector

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda wants to attract more foreign and local investments into manufacturing and other value-added industries to boost the country’s manufacturing sector, officials have said.

Emmanuel Hategeka, permanent secretary for trade and industry, told reporters on Monday that the country has laid out a strategy to promote Made-in-Rwanda products which will be successful with massive investments in the local manufacturing.

He was speaking during a meeting with local manufacturers and agro-processing firms in Kigali aimed at promoting locally made Rwandan products.

"We are looking at seeing an increase in number of investments in manufacturing industry to boost the growth of locally made Rwanda products for export," he added. "It’s vital to see value-added processing activities taking place in Rwanda. Investment is what makes economies successful."

Rwanda has laid strategies to expand the domestic value chain and to create a good business climate that favors the growth of investments in the industrial and manufacturing sector in Rwanda.

In an effort to reduce the trade deficit and to spur economic growth, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has created multiple strategies to generate off-farm employment by developing key sectors like manufacturing and industry.

Serge Kamuhinda, RDB chief operations officer, said that Rwanda offers a variety of investment opportunities in the manufacturing sector and other sectors of the economy.

"The most rich and powerful countries across the globe attribute to their wealth from manufacturing. Made in Rwanda products is a large-scale campaign intended to boost the manufacturing sector, create jobs and enhance economic growth," he noted.

World Bank rankings show Rwanda as one of the easiest places to do business in Africa, after Mauritius and South Africa.

According to the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, Rwanda projects an annual economic growth rate of 11.5 percent by 2018, which will help drive the country into a middle income economy with the GPD per capita of 1,240 U.S. dollars.

World Bank funds infrastructure improvement in Rwanda’s secondary cities

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda Tuesday launched of a project worth 95 million U.S. dollars to develop road and sanitation infrastructure in six designated secondary cities funded by the World Bank loan.

The project dubbed Rwanda Urban Development Project (RUDP), will also see upgrading of one unplanned settlement in Kigali City’s Nyarugenge district, over the next five years.

The project is expected to benefit more than 88,000 people in the six secondary cities and 19,000 residents in Nyarugenge district whose unplanned settlements will be upgraded on 86 hectares.

Under the implementation of RUDP, 81 kms of paved roads and 44 kms of drainage will be built in six designated secondary cities of Muhanga, Huye, Rubavu, Rusizi, Nyagatare, and Musanze, according to officials.

Speaking at the launch, Mesky Brhane, a senior urban specialist at the World Bank and the bank’s program and team leader on the RUDP project said key stakeholders were involved in the design of the initiative to ease its implementation.

"I am very confident that the implementation of the project will be very smooth," she said.

James Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure said government expects the project to bring benefits to citizens and the economy as it is expected to attract private investment.

Rwanda to host UN summit on phasing out ozone-depleting gases

NAIROBI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda will next month host a UN summit that will inject fresh impetus in efforts to phase out gases that deplete the ozone layer, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) announced on Friday.

UNEP said in a statement issued in Nairobi that representatives from 197 countries that are party to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer will attend the Oct. 10-14 Kigali meeting.

"Parties to the Montreal Protocol will meet in Kigali, Rwanda in a bid to reach an important agreement that could prevent a global temperature rise of up to 0.5 degrees by the end of this century while continuing to protect the ozone layer," read the statement.

The UN member states in 1987 ratified the Montreal Protocol to revitalize the momentum toward phasing out production of chemicals that harmed the ozone layer.

Since it came into force in 1989, the protocol has undergone several amendments in line with evolving geopolitical and economic dynamics.

Ozone depleting substances that are targeted for elimination include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) that are widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

The statement indicated the Kigali meeting will discuss amendments to the Montreal Protocol to support phasing out or replacement of ozone depleting substances.

It added the representatives are expected to reach a consensus on curbing production and use of substances that are detrimental to the health of the ozone layer.

Rwanda calls for more commitment to prevent greenhouse gases

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The world should pass an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, which would represent the most significant global action to reduce climate change since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Rwanda made the call on the occasion of marking the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer Thursday.

More than 1,000 international leaders and ozone preservation and low carbon development experts are expected in Rwanda next month for the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, known as MOP28.

The MOP28 will take place from Oct. 6-14 at the Kigali Convention Centre.

Participants will discuss an amendment to the Montreal Protocol which, if passed, will result in the early phase down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) -- strong greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigeration, solvents, propellants and aerosols with a high global warming potential.

A successful amendment to the protocol would signal the international community’s commitment to practical action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement—limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and the more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources said in a statement Thursday that his government looks forward to welcoming all Parties to the Montreal Protocol to Kigali in the spirit of international cooperation.

"We are pleased to see so many countries supporting an ambitious amendment, and are confident that it will be passed when we meet in Kigali in October. Rwanda stands ready to work with all Parties to find common ground and make the amendment a reality," Biruta said.

The Montreal Protocol is a global agreement that protects the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances responsible for ozone depletion and climate change.

There has been a 98 percent reduction in ozone depleting chemicals globally thanks to the Montreal Protocol, and the ozone layer is now healing and expected to recover by 2050.




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