Agaciro Development Fund to focus on rural development
Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning John Rwangombwa has announced that money to be raised through the Agaciro Development Fund (AgDF) will be used in fostering national development goals in rural areas.
“It’s a fund through which Rwandans and other well-wishers will voluntarily raise money in order to achieve Rwanda’s vision 2020,” Rwangombwa explained. He added that the fund is not coming to replace the existing funds, but rather as a supplement.
He went on explaining that AfDF originated from the last year’s National Dialogue where some Rwandans suggested the creation of a fund that would help Rwandans to overcome some of challenges by using their own means.
Though the fund is yet to be officially launched next week on August 23, it has — through three dedicated accounts in BK, BNR and BPR — already gathered over Frw 38 million (5.3 million from individuals and 33.5 million from the Cabinet).
The Minister noted that they talked with banks so that they can remove charges for people transferring their contributions. He added that the process to raise awareness for AgDF is already underway, and that they expect to raise money from mobilization of workers in public and private organizations. Individuals can also contribute.
For people living abroad, Rwangombwa said that they opened a website, agaciro.org, to facilitate money transfer. “Anyone from the Diaspora can now log on to the website and make a direct money transfer,” he explained.
Rwanda’s embassies’ bank accounts will also be used to collect money. The Diaspora alone transfered more than US$ 230 million to the country last year.
Apart from bank accounts, the Minister also said that there were talks with local telecoms operators, as well as RURA, to install a phone line through which mobile transactions will be made by sending an SMS to 2020. Charges will be Frw 500 or 1000.
“In order to achieve 50% of Rwandans having access to electricity, we need at least US$ 1.4 billion in the next five years,” Rwangombwa observed. “So if we can mobilize the resources on ourselves, we can do it much earlier than expected – and this will surely increase the development.”
The Agaciro Development Fund comes at a time when some western donors — including German, Sweden and The Netherlands — have temporarily suspended their aid to Rwanda due to the UN Group of Experts’ allegations linking Rwanda to support M23, mutinous Congolese soldiers in the eastern part of the DR Congo.
According to officials, the AgDF is set to be a continuous initiative, and will eventually become autonomous to help build the national solidarity. Outcome from this year’s contributions is expected to be revealed during the next National Dialogue.