Kivu Belt road gets boost with China loan
The government of Rwanda and China on Friday signed a loan framework agreement of about US$ 116 million to cover the construction of a 66 km road, part of the Kivu Belt which connects Rusizi, Karongi and Rubavu in the western province around Lake Kivu.
According to officials, the loan was arranged with 7 years of grace period on a 1.5% rate of interest to be paid back over 20 years.
The entire Kivu Belt will cover 185 km and cost of US$ 350 million; the Chinese loan will cover two lots of the whole project, one connecting Mwityazo of Nyamasheke district with Ruvumbu of Karongi district and another lot connecting Ruvumbu to Kibuye.
Speaking at the ceremony, John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Planning commended China as it is becoming a big partner in financing the Kivu Belt road and said that the project is very significant for Rwanda’s economy.
“The road will facilitate export of coffee and tea as it connects parts of the country that are important for agriculture,” Rwangombwa pointed out, adding that it will also create non-farming jobs for local people.
Western province produces 70% of the country’s coffee and 40% of tea.
The road is also important for tourism in that area as it passes touristic sites such as Lake Kivu, hot springs and hotels along the lake shores.
Construction activities of the Kivu Belt started in 2010 on 50 km between Rusizi to Mwityazo under the funding of about US$ 63 million from the African Development Bank, while the whole project is expected to be completed in four years.
Chu Zhan, ambassador of China in Rwanda said that the loan is part of several agreements. In this regard, he mentioned that they will next week decide on the next 3-year action plan of the Sino-Rwandan cooperation, during the fifth ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation July 19 to 20 in Beijing.