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Rwandan immigration starts issuing East Africa 'e-passport'

by Frank Kanyesiyge KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has begun issuing the East Africa e-passport in line with the country’s commitment to promote regional integration as envisioned by East African Community (EAC) partner states, an immigration official announced Friday.

"Rwandans can now start applying for the common east africa e-passport. Starting from today, Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration will start issuing EAC e-passport," said Francois Regis Gatarayiha, director general of Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, at a press conference at the institution’s head office in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.

The e-passport is embedded with an electronic chip which will have biodata and biometric information of the holder, including the name, date of birth, and other biographic information, said Gatarayiha.

A common single EAC bloc e-passport will boost cross-border travels and trade, and further deepen EAC integration, said Gatarayiha.

The new e-passport database is enhanced with Automated Fingerprint Verification system (AFIS) to minimize fraud, identity theft, forgery and passport skimming, he said.

The EAC e-passport complies with guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, making it admissible globally, according to Gatarayiha. Diplomatic passport’s color is red, service passport is green, ordinary passport is sky blue.

The outer front cover will have the words "East African Community" in gold on top and the name of the issuing Partner States will be pasted below.


Francois Regis Gatarayiha, director general of Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration of Rwanda | Coastweek

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Francois Regis Gatarayiha, director general of Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration of Rwanda, introduces Rwanda East Africa e-passport in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.  XINHUA PHOTO - LYU TIANRAN
Gatarayiha presented the diplomatic, service and ordinary e-passports to the first users shortly after the press conference.

EAC heads of state launched the East Africa e-passport and directed the commencement of its issuance during the 17th ordinary summit of the EAC heads of state in March 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania.


Rwanda economy to see fast growth in next three years: World Bank

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda’s economic growth is expected to be in the range of 7.6 to 8 percent annually between 2019 to 2021, the World Bank said in a medium-term economic outlook report released on Tuesday, in Rwandan capital city Kigali.

"Supported by conducive macroeconomic policies, Rwanda continues to enjoy a strong economic momentum characterized by high growth and low inflation," Aghassi Mkrtchyan, senior economist at the World Bank said in a statement on the report.

"While public investments will continue to support the growth over the medium-term, Rwanda needs to strengthen its private sector to stay on a high growth trajectory in the long-run," said Mkrtchyan.

Public sector-led investments will be central to maintain the projected outlook while the fiscal deficit will remain elevated over the medium term to accommodate higher public investment, said the report.

With inflation low, monetary policy is expected to remain accommodative and support recovery in bank lending while a flexible exchange rate will help to build external buffers and will facilitate export growth, it said.

However, the report said Rwanda’s economic outlook is vulnerable to both domestic and external risks.

Domestically, the main risks are weather-related, such as droughts and floods that may depress agricultural production, it said.

Scaling up of public-sector-led investments is a challenge as well as an opportunity, and that could jeopardize debt sustainability if Rwanda’s investments-growth nexus does not improve, the World Bank warned.

The main external risks are related to a more severe slowdown in global economic growth than is currently projected that would affect prices for the commodities Rwanda exports, according to the report.

The report also said Rwanda’s economy expanded at 8.6 percent in 2018.

The growth was broad-based with agriculture expanding by almost 6 percent while industries, supported by construction and manufacturing, grew by more than 10 percent, and the service sector recorded 9 percent growth, it said.

Africa’s agriculture ministers discuss strategies
to scale up digitalization of agriculture

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Africa’s agriculture ministers and development partners on Tuesday started meeting in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda, to discuss successful strategies for scaling up digitalization of African agriculture.

Meeting under the Malabo Montpellier Forum, participants are discussing the rising level of mobile technology adoption in Africa in recent years, as well as African countries’ current limitations and priorities for future action in agriculture.

The use of ICT in transforming agricultural sector is of paramount importance, said Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente while opening the meeting, adding that ICT would allow farmers and other agriculture sector stakeholders to access efficiently accurate and timely information for the decision-making in the sector.

African farmers need right skills and approaches to increase their production, modernize agricultural extension services and better manage risks, said Ngirente.

Africa’s agriculture sector accounts for around 32 percent of the total GDP, he cited statistics as saying.

The forum examines progress on commitments under the Malabo Declaration that was adopted during the 23rd ordinary session of the African Union Assembly in 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Under the declaration, African countries committed to enhancing investment finance in agriculture, boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services, and ending hunger in Africa by 2025.

Rwanda makes strides in rebuilding livestock sector: official

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has made strides in rebuilding the livestock sector since 1994, when an estimated 80 percent of the cattle were decimated, Rwandan agriculture minister said Thursday.

The cattle population that numbered 600,000 before 1994 was reduced sharply to 172,000.

Thanks to government interventions such as the cattle stocking program "one cow per family" the cattle population has climbed to 1.3 million, said Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, at a meeting on cattle breeding in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.

Milk production in the central African country has significantly increased from 50,000 tonnes in the year of 2 000 to 816,000 tonnes in 2018, said Mukeshimana.

She, however, said the current 106 milk collection centers owned by farmer cooperatives are not enough to collect all the milk produced in the countryside, which is a potential area for further investment.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame refutes recent human rights allegations

by Lyu Tianran, James Gashumba and Frank Kanyesigye KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame hit back in a recent interview with France 24 at allegations of Rwanda’s human rights situation, which aroused strong resonance in Rwanda and in social media.

The French television interviewed Kagame, alongside the European Union (EU)’s Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica at the European Development Day event in Brussels, Belgium, earlier this month.

The interview video was posted on Franch 24’s website on June 24.

The presenter raised up a question that how much Rwanda’s human rights concern EU when it comes to providing development funding investment, citing an EU human rights report focusing on Rwanda, and then continued with more questions on human rights issues.

Kagame in the interview dismissed allegations of Rwanda’s human rights record in the report, saying the report is "ridiculous."

"What we are talking about in terms of development, these are human rights: development, schools, education, health and food security," Kagame said in the interview.

The level of poverty in Rwanda has decreased by almost by 60 percent, and Rwandan people are participating in improving their own lives and have improved lives, he said.

"You really need to stop this superiority complex nonsense about human rights.

"You think you are the only one who respects human rights, all others are about violating human rights," the president told the presenter.

"We have fought for human rights and freedom for our people, much better and more than anyone including you, (and) people who keep talking this nonsense," said Kagame.

"Where we have taken our country from and where it is now speaks for itself," he said.

Some people think they know everything about human rights and all the kinds of things, and people in "another world" don’t know, but "these are our human rights," the president said.

Despite the tremendous improvement of human rights in Rwanda and the developments including economy and human rights that are happening in Rwanda, there is generally a lack of understanding of what exactly is going on in Rwanda, Richard Karugarama Lebero, senior lecturer from school of law at the University of Rwanda, told Xinhua Wednesday in a telephone interview.

People already have preconceived ideas of what Rwanda should be and what Rwanda shouldn’t be, many of which are not based on evidence, said Lebero.

Rwanda’s human rights record is impressive and keeps improving, he said, adding that the country has freedom of speech, assembly and expression, right to education, as well as independent courts, he said.

Frank Habineza, member of the Rwanda’s parliament and President of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, said the issue of superiority complex "is there in the West."

Rwanda is signatory to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, therefore the country knows what human rights are and what to respect, Habineza told Xinhua, adding that no one should have a "prerogative" to claim that he or she knows human rights better.

"Western countries have this superiority complex by belittling African countries on many things including human rights, President Kagame corrected this perception," said Ismael Buchanan, senior lecturer at the University of Rwanda, in a written interview.

Rwanda has made tremendous differences in every sector and part of life, in politics, health, human rights and so on compared to 25 years ago, said Buchanan.

The government of Rwanda and partners have put in more efforts to ensure that human rights are promoted and respected, he said.

Rwanda has ratified almost all core international human rights instruments, domesticated them in the constitution and in other national laws to ensure that citizens have these rights, said the scholar.

He further called on Rwandans and Africans to define their own destiny.

Rwanda’s private and leading newspaper The New Times on Tuesday published an editorial titled "When will they get off their high stools and get back to reality."

"Rwandans and their leaders are not there to please them (international noisemakers).

"They do things in their interests, no one else’s," read the editorial on the interview of France 24.

Clips of the interview have been widely circulated on twitter, one of which reached over 189,000 views by the time of the report’s publication and the full interview video posted on YouTube reached over 86,000 views.

Many Twitter users expressed support to Kagame on twitter posts with the hashtag "#WhoAreYou", a rhetorical question Kagame used in the interview to ask people not to be a "judge" of others.

Another Twitter post said the interview meant to be a discussion on development turned into a "masterclass" on confronting and challenging "long-held racist views."

"Africa will not stay in that little box you’ve created for us," it said.



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