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Rwanda: Bye Bye Rwandatel


By May this year, Rwandatel will be no more. The bankrupt utility is closing its doors forever when a liquidation exercise that began last year is completed. The government decided to liquidate the company when operations became unsustainable following loss of its mobile phone (3G) license, amidst a deepening debt crisis.

Rwandatel which was for decades the country’s single telecoms firm, a giant in its heyday, looks like a ghost company these days. When the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency revoked the operating license from owners LAP Green, 137 workers were laid off, or about 43 percent of the company’s work force.

New 40,000 seater stadium to host opening ceremony of CHAN


A proposed new 40,000 seater stadium to be built in Gahanga will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 CHAN Championship.

According to Emmanuel Bugingo, director of sports in the ministry of sports and culture, a Turkish firm called Babilaks Construction entered into an agreement with the Government last week to carry out a feasibility study on the costs of building the largest stadium in the country.

The firm will present its findings in two months. Construction of the stadium is expected to start before the end of the year, with unconfirmed reports saying that the construction of the stadium will cost between $40-60m.

The ministry of sports is keen to start construction work on the new stadium, as well as renovation on the 25000 Amahoro stadium, Muhanga and Huye stadiums ahead of a CAF inspection team expected early next year.

Rwanda will host the 4th edition of the CHAN Championship in 2016. The third edition will be hosted by South Africa in 2014.

DR Congo won the first edition in 2009 while Tunisia won the 2011 tournament. CHAN is a competition reserved for African players featuring in their respective domestic leagues.

Local Defense Forces to be reformed


The lower chamber of Parliament has passed a bill that will lead to the reorganization of the local defense forces into a new security organ called Local Administration Police.

local defense

A survey by the Senate showed that the local defense forces only received a confidence vote of 54%. (file photo)

James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, explained that the reform is the result of a decision by the general assembly of the Senate of October 29, 2009, having reviewed the report of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security. This led to the request to the government to review this law governing the organ of Local Defense (LD) and update it in order to tackle numerous problems in their functioning.

“The survey, which assessed security issues countrywide, indicat­ed a lack of confidence in the LDs – they only received a confidence vote of 54%, while the police was given 97% and the army 98%,” the minister said. “While the LDs have contributed a lot in supporting the army and police in maintaining security, various problems were noted in their functioning, especially issues of poor or unprofes­sional performance, or transgression of responsibilities. Therefore, new guidelines were to be set,” the minister added.

According to the minister, for the new Local Administration Police (LAP) more attention will be given to capacity building, as well as supervision and monitoring by the districts under the su­pervision of the ministry in charge of local government. There will also be a clearer demarcation in regulations and procedures to follow.

“Some of the people will be selected from former local de­fense personnel with a remark­able reputation, and who fulfill the requirements,” the minister explained.

According to MP Suzanne Mukayijore, it was also found that some of the responsibili­ties of the LDs were similar to those of the Community Polic­ing Commissions, night guards, police and others in charge of local security.

“It was puzzling how all these organs were to work together,” Mukayijore explained. “It is good to have security ensured, but we also need to regulate them and specify their specific tasks, hence, this bill clearly de­fines the role of LAP to include ensuring the security at the lo­cal administration offices, mar­kets, ensuring the security of the local administration officers in charge of revenue collection, among others.”

The bill also specifies that LAP will have to support local administrative entities in deci­sion implementation; ensure the general security of local administrative entities; prevent crimes, arrest and take the cul­prits before competent authori­ties; investigate and submit to the competent instances in­formation related to security; ensure the security of the infra­structure located in their area of work; and disaster. Members of the Local Administration Police will be based at the level of the District and the City of Kigali; they will be armed and trained by the national police.

Police refutes claims that bodies in Lake Rweru are Rwandans


The police has refuted suggestions from Burundian authorities that five bodies discovered in Lake Rweru are Rwandan citizens.

The Interior Minister of Burundi, Edouard Nduwimana, had expressed concerns and called for calm between the two countries, before alleging that the bodies are of Rwandan nationality.

“So far, and according to reports sent to us by the local government, we can confirm that the bodies are not Burundians,” the Minister told RFI. “Fishermen told us that the bodies came from the Akagera river which flows into Lake Rweru from Rwanda. This leads us to believe that the bodies came from Rwanda, but there is no confirmation. Investigations are needed to confirm whether or not they are bodies of Rwandans who came from Kagera, or if there are other bodies, those of Burundians thrown from Rweru.”

While Nduwimana observed that Burundian local authorities reported no missing citizens, the Rwandan police affirms the same is the case for Rwanda.

“A number of dead bodies were recently recovered from Lake Rweru on the side of Burundi by fishermen in the province of Muyinga. We can confirm that there are no missing Rwandans among the bodies,” the commissioner for the Criminal Investigation Department, Theos Badege, said.

The police say the mayors of Ngoma and Kirehe also confirmed no citizens in their area have been reported missing.

“Through the usual good working relation with his Burundian counterpart, the regional police commander for Eastern Province crossed to Burundi to continue investigations and inform his counterparts that there is no case of missing people on the Rwandan side,” Badege added.

A team of administrators and police officers from Burundi and Rwanda went in the region where the two new bodies were discovered on Monday, wrapped in large bags floating on the waters of this lake that separates the two countries. This brings the number of bodies found in the area for a week to five.

Fishermen raised the alarm after finding corpses of men and women, some tied up, floating on the waters of Lake Rweru several times since the beginning of July. Rweru is the largest lake in the Northern Burundi, on the border with Rwanda.

Amavubi to face Libya in Sousse instead of Sfax


The 2018 preliminary World Cup qualifying first leg tie between Rwanda’s Amavubi and Libya has been moved to Stade Olympique de Sousse on Friday, November 13.

Originally, the match was scheduled to be played at Taieb Mhiri Stadium in Sfac.

However, Ferwafa has officially announced that the game will be moved, following confirmation from Tunisia football federation.

“In an official letter, Tunisia football federation confirmed to Ferwafa on Thursday that the game has been shifted to Stade Olympic de Sousse.”

Stade Olympique de Sousse is a versatile stadium in Sousse, Tunisia. It used by the football team Etoil Sahel, and was used for the 2004 African Cup of Nations. The stadium has a capacity of 28,000 seats.

The return leg will be played in Rwanda on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at Stade de Kigali.

Meanwhile the Amavubi is expected to depart Kigali on Sunday this weekend to acclimatize ahead of the schedule.

The game will also be part of the preparation for the domestic players ahead of next year’s Africa Nationa Championship (CHAN) to be held in Rwanda from January 16 to February 07, 2016.Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Google+Share on Linkedin

Mps Say 3.7 Million Rwandan Petitions Are Constitutional


The MPs from both chambers voted on Tuesday to confirm the legality of the 3.78 million petitions sent to Parliament by Rwandans requesting the amendment of article 101 of the Constitution that stipulates that; “the President of the Republic of Rwanda is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once”.

About 3,000 Rwandans in favor of the amendment gathered in the Parliament auditoriums on Tuesday to witness the process of examining the legality of the their request.

Fewer Babies As Women Stay Longer In Classrooms


When we began interviewing our former classmates at Northwestern, we expected to encounter a few stay-at-home mothers. Even though no one in college had explicitly stated that they planned on stopping work to raise children, we understood that many women make this choice for a range of reasons. The Pew Research Center reports that 10 percent of highly educated mothers (those who earned a master’s degree or greater) stay home. We found that for the 37 women in our sorority’s 1993 graduating class, the percent was more than double: One-quarter are at home raising children—10 people, six of whom hold advanced degrees. These numbers surprised us, to put it mildly. We weren’t the only ones.

Each of the women in this group had been on a successful track after leaving Northwestern, and wanted and intended to have a career after having kids. They were a television writer, teacher, opera singer, public relations manager, lawyer, management consultant, fundraiser and financial adviser, among other professions. Many described their decision to stay home as something that came as a complete surprise.


That becoming a mother changes one’s worldview isn’t news. But while some women had their worlds rocked and then picked themselves up, put on their business casual, and went back to the office, others decided to upend their careers and refashion themselves as full-time mothers. What accounted for the vastly different reactions to the same life-changing event?

FARG increases allowance for Genocide survivors


The Assistance Fund for Geno­cide Survivors (FARG) has in­creased the amount of money it used to give to its beneficiaries to improve their welfare, officials have confirmed.

FARG executive secretary Théophile Ruberangeyo ex­plained the assistance had been adjusted from Frw 7,500 to Frw 18,000 per month for all of the 21,039 current FARG recipents. In addition, 147 of them, who are the most vulnerable and live in dire situations, receive hence­forth between Frw 30,000 to Frw 100,000 depending on the gravity of their case.

Ruberangeyo said the increase will come into effect at the start of the 2013-14 fiscal year in July.

The executive secretary said the beneficiaries in­clude not only old people but also those with per­manent suffering that resulted from the Genocide such as trauma, HIV/AIDS or physi­cal handicaps. He explained that with the passing of time, an in­creasing number of Genocide survivors has difficulty to look after themselves due to age, so there is a need to increase their allowance.

“I think it will change my life; I will be able to save some money and maybe buy a goat.”

“Genocide survivor shouldn’t be the living below the poverty line. The whole idea behind the increased assistance is to let them earn at least one dollar a day,” Ruberangeyo said.

He explained a validation team composed of people who deal with Genocide survivors started a pilot study to know who is re­ally vulnerable, and identify non-registered vulnerable survivors. The study started in Bugesera but other areas will also be visited. The team includes the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG), AVEGA-Agahozo, the army and police as well as local leaders.

FARG beneficiaries have ap­plauded the move. “Honestly, I thank FARG for its incessant sup­port, said Alice Mukashyaka, a 31-year-old from Gicaca cell in Bugesera who is in the Frw 7,500 category. “If it weren’t for them, I could have faced lots of challeng­es; although the money I cur­rently receive is not enough to meet all my needs, at least it helps.”

According to Mukashyaka, who suffers from debilitat­ing headaches due to being hit on the head with a machete during the Genocide, the increase would be a major improvement. “I think it will change my life; I will be able to save some money and maybe buy a goat that can earn me even more money and give me fertilizers,” she said.

It has to be noted that, in ad­dition to the allowance, FARG also supports Genocide survivors with health insurance, housing and school fees, among others.

Govt takes steps to curb importation of secondhand garments


The Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba, has said that the government spends over $100 million on imported second hand garments and shoes.

To address this, Kanimba told a meeting on Monday that they will soon establish manufacturing industries to produce locally made garments. The meeting was a collaboration of the association of Rwandan tailors and private sector federation (PSF).

“For three months, we have been discussing with tailors and shoemakers how they can work together and increase exports. Much emphasis is also on improving the quality of products since some consumers opt to import goods because local ones are poorly processed. We want to work together such that we can increase production and get rid of secondhand garments,” he said.

He stressed that the issue of importing secondhand garments has become an East African Community (EAC) concern, noting that regional leaders have agreed to end it.

“As Rwandans, we are struggling for dignity. We need to stop importing secondhand garments because we don’t know who used them first! And we can replace them,” said the minister.

In 2014, the Made in Rwanda campaign was launched to ensure that Rwandans commit and increase demand for local goods and services. It was also to improve the capacity to export by securing jobs and creating new ones.

The president of the association of Rwandan tailors, Mukantwali Alvera, said that they can cover the demand gap filled by imported goods, noting that it’s the reason they formed an association.


Tailors during the meeting.

“We have formed a company called Kigali Garment Centre that will be registered by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) within six months. Since government plans to establish garment industries, we will be making garments for both sexes,” she said.

Mukantwali adds that with government’s help, their company will be successful and tailors will invest in and showcase their talents. “We intend to have garment centers across the country to help us have enough products and also know the number of tailors countrywide,” she said.

Members of the Kigali Garment Centre will start with Rwf 2 billion for buying equipment, including tailoring machines. There is also a share of Rwf 20000 for each member.

Mukantwali further told The Rwanda Focus that they would like government to train and equip them with advanced skills.

“We would love to have a school centre for professional tailors such that all tailors can be trained and improve their work,” she adds.

Minister Kanimba responded to the request by saying that in 2014, the government and C&H – a Chinese company – signed an agreement under which C&H is expected to start a training base.

“C&H Garments Company is training 300 people from industries in China who will come and train Rwandans,” Kanimba said

Yvette Mukarwema, PSF’s chief operations officer, urged tailors to work together to increase products which will cover the demand market.

“We are still seeking investors such that we can have many garment industries. Your association should be strong we are ready to support you as you develop the country,” she said.

According to research by PSF, the dominance of imports over exports results in lower employment and a reduction in profits of industries and service providers.

Under the second economic development and poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS2), government targets to develop urbanization and develop secondly cities to create jobs. The cities are Musanze in Northern Province, Nyagatare in Eastern Province, Huye and Muhanga in Southern province, Rubavu and Rusizi in Western Province.

According to minister Kanimba, each of the above cities will have a garment industry not only to create jobs, but to also make sure that production is enough. The cities will have industrial parks as well.

“We hope that by the end of 2016, we will have some industries in the secondary cities, even the institutions for professional tailors. We should buy our own products instead of importing such that our local industries develop,” he said.

Rwanda’s population of over 11 million people needs garments which cannot be satisfied by one textile industry, UTEXRWA, and other small cooperatives which produce handmade clothes.

Asked where Rwanda will get raw materials such as cotton, Kanimba said that these will be imported from EAC member countries.

Nyakatsi eradication moves 125,000 people into decent housing


The Nyakatsi-eradication program, which started in 2008 and was accelerated this year, will soon come to an end.


New houses under construction for Nyakatsi-dwellers in Runda sector, Kamonyi district.

Grass-thatched houses or Nyakatsi have been used in Rwanda since time immemorial. Even with the arrival of modern building methods, poverty and lack of political by former regimes meant many people still continued to live in these traditional houses.

In 2008, the Government embarked on a campaign to improve housing, which included the eradication of Nyakatsi. It was the government’s target to put an end to grass-thatched houses so that poor Rwandans would have decent shelters equipped with modern and healthy infrastructure.

Augustin Kampayana, the chairman of rural settlement task force in the ministry of local government, explains that the Nyakatsi eradication campaign started by identifying and categorizing the families that were living in grass-thatched houses. This categorization process grouped Nyakatsi households in three categories: Category O consists of the most vulnerable families that need to be fully supported; category A ismade up of poor families that can be supported by local communities through community work (umuganda) while the government provides them with building materials such as iron sheets and nails; and category B are able families which need to be mobilized and change their mindset.

Kampayana says that by December 2009, all categories confounded, 124,671 grass-thatched houses were identified. The next phase consisted of sensitizing the concerned families on the importance of having decent housing. “Many families were mobilized to leave their houses, especially able ones, and by January 2011 the number of Nyakatsi was down to 70,985,” Kampayana explains. Those remaining were families that needed assistance because they are among the poorest people.

In January, a joint operation was launched involving the Army, the Police, local communities and other stakeholders to assist another 35,000 families to resettle in their new houses. By March 31, only 18,792 families from categories O and A remained without decent houses. And at the end of April, there were 8,229 houses still under construction.

It is expected that the operation, which has a budget of Frw 4 billion, will come to a close by the end of May 2011, when all Nyakatsi-dwellers should have been resettled.

It is true that the program has seen a few hitches, with Nyakatsi being destroyed before the new house was ready or people not receiving the promised construction materials, but it seems that these were individual cases at the local level which in the meantime have been solved.

Supreme Court rejects Ingabire’s petition


The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a case filed by Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire petitioning that some articles of the law on genocide ideology be revoked; saying that the articles are unconstitutional.

The chairperson of the United Democratic Forces FDU-Inkingi, the yet to be registered political party, challenged the court to revoke articles under which she was being prosecuted at the High Court in a trial against her where she is accused of spreading genocide ideology among others.

In the petition, Ingabire was requesting the Supreme Court to nullify articles 2- 9 of the law repressing genocide ideology; under reasons that they are unconstitutional.

The accused and her lawyer Gatera Gashabana had told the court that articles 2 and 3 of the law contradict articles 20, 33 and 34 of the constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression. They were saying that the articles are too vague; thus denying the rights to give opinion on the genocide.

Article 33 of the constitution states that “freedom of thought, opinion, conscience, religion, worship and the public manifestation thereof is guaranteed by the State in accordance with conditions determined by law.”

On the other side, it mentions that “propagation of ethnic, regional, racial or discrimination or any other form of division is punishable by law.”

It was against this background that the court ruled that they found Ingabire’s arguments baseless, saying that the scope of the law is meaningful, though it can requires more clarifications in some cases.

“The court found baseless the request to revoke articles 2 and 3 because their scope is meaningful,” said Sylvie Zainab, the presiding judge.

The judge mentioned that the court rejected the requests to nullify articles 4 to 9 on the law repressing genocide ideology and article 4 of the law on war crimes and crimes against humanity, saying that the articles no longer exist in the current code of laws.

Ingabire is charged with genocide ideology, divisionism, conspiracy, planning to cause state insecurity and supporting armed group among others, accusations that he has been saying are politically motivated.

Speaking on behalf of the FDU-Inkingi, Boniface Twagirimana, the vice president, said they were unhappy with the court ruling, though he said that they stay determined fighting.

Ingabire  is accused alongside with other four former FDLR combatants namely Major Vital Uwumuremyi, Colonel Tharcisse Nditurende, Lieutenant Jean Marie Karuta and Lt Colonel Noeli Habiyaremye.

Their verdict at is set today the High Court at 11: am.

Ethiopian to transport cargo to Brazzaville


A new arrangement between RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines to facilitate exports to Congo Brazzaville has been launched, allowing Rwandans to export 30 tons per week.

“This is in line with the government’s commitment to increase the volume of exports to fill the gap with imports,” said Industry and Trade minister Francois Kanimba.

Until the official launch of the first Ethiopian cargo flight between Kigali and Brazza on Monday, Rwandan exporters had great difficulties to get their wares to Congo, despite a trade mission to the country two years ago which revealed a potential market for commodities such as fruits, vegetables, meat, flour and milk, among others.

Initially, the exporters could make use of RwandAir flights to the central African country, but a sharp increase of passengers made that no longer a viable option.

“That’s why we negotiated with other companies having cargo and concluded a deal with Ethiopian,” Kanimba explained, adding that for now a capacity of 30 tons per week is available which can be increased to 60 tons.

He clarified that the ministry’s role is just one of facilitating transport, and that it is now up to the business communities in both countries to set up trade. A similar scheme is envisages for Gabon, which has also received a Rwandan business delegation, while further down the line Turkey, Qatar and other parts of the Middle East are to be explored.

Kanimba expressed the hope that such measures will help rectify the trade imbalance; last year, imports were valued at US$ 2.2 billion against US$ 800 million of exports.

“We really still have a long way to go to balance exports and imports, but that’s our priority,” the Minister said. “We are committed to increase our exports at least by 28% every year in the second phase of EDPRS. This is a big target, but experience from the recent past in expanding our markets indicates that it can be achieved. The remaining concern is to entice Rwandans to work hard so that we can get enough production for export.”

Kagame impressed with Arsenal’s Champions League performance


The President of the Republic of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame has revealed his excitement in regards to Arsenal’s Champions League win against Napoli that saw the Gunners win 2-0 at the Emirates stadium last night.

Kagame, an ardent fan of the London based club tweeted that, “Enjoyed watching game at Emirates-congratulations #AWenger & Arsenal-back to winning ways of old & beautiful game!”

Arsenal registered a second Champions League victory with goals from playmaker Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud to remain unbeaten this season following the arrival of the German midfielder who has elevated the spirits of the club.

This moment tallied as the ideal reward to celebrate Arsene Wenger’s 17th anniversary as Arsenal manager – delivered in person by the most expensive player in the club’s history.

The Gunners started the season with a shock home defeat at the hands of Aston Villa but have won 10 matches in a row to move to the top of both the Premier League and their Champions League group.

Kagame and Wenger have known each other for some time and the Frenchman sent an Arsenal flag souvenir signed by all the players to the Rwandan leader for his 50th birthday in 2007 which came as a surprise.

Paul Kagame

HE Paul Kagame (R) poses for a photo with Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger (L) (Internet photo)

However, in January 2012, there was a turn of events when Kagame tweeted that, “I very much support Arsenal – but to be honest Wenger needs to coach another team now and Arsenal needs another coach,” following Arsenal’s defeat against Manchester United.

Kagame called for Wenger to be sacked after Arsenal lost to Manchester United 1-2 in an English Premier League encounter. Kagame did not particularly agree with Wenger bringing on Andrey Arshavin as a second half substitute for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Kagame's Tweet

Kagame’s tweet was in response to Philip Etale, a communication officer for the ODM party of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, another famous gunner.

Outspoken Piers Morgan, a British journalist working with CNN is another public figure that supports Arsenal and as a matter of fact had been advocating for Wenger to be sacked but has been full of praise since this season started and tweeted after last night’s win against Napoli that, “Fantastic performance. Congratulations to the team and yes, the manager. #AFC #WengerReborn.”

Queen Elizabeth II, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Prince Harry and American rapper Shawn Corey Carter commonly known as Jay-Z and are some of the passionate supporters of Arsenal.

Country on course to reduce infant deaths, but huge task ahead


One of the United Nations Millennium Develop­ment Goals is to reduce child mortality by ensuring that the number of children who die under the age of five is reduced by two-third, come 2015. So, how much progress has Rwanda made?


The care that a newborn baby receives determines if he dies or lives. (file photo)

According to a report by the Ministry of Health, in 2000 the infant mortality rate was of 107 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the under-five mortality rate was of 196 per 1,000 live births – an indication that most deaths oc­curred during the first year of life.

“In Rwanda the main causes of child deaths have proven to be diarrhea, malaria and pneu­monia,” says Dr Anniseth Nza­bonimpa, coordinator of the family planning, HIV, maternal and child integration unit in the Health Ministry.

Therefore, the ministry has been putting in place strategies to prevent them.

Efforts have focused on im­munization of children. “In re­cent years, new vaccines like the pneumococcal vaccine were introduced.  New ones will con­tinue to be introduced as they be­come available,” said Nzabonim­pa.

According to the 2010 demo­graphic and health survey, 90% of the children aged 12-23 months were vaccinated – a significant increase from 75% and 80% of 2005 and 2008 respectively.

Other strategies are pro­vision of clean water and good sanitary conditions. “We give to the families ‘Sur’eau’, a product used to purify the water they drink and urge them to increase measures of hy­giene in their homes,” said Dr Ferdinand Bikorimana, of the maternal and child health de­partment in the health ministry. “The community health workers are instrumental in the campaign as they are constantly on the ground. So we provided them with whatever is needed to help the commu­nity attain the above.”

To fight against malaria, a lead­ing cause of death among chil­dren, mosquito nets have been distributed to the community.

Neonatology services, which specifically take care of all new­born babies with problems, have also been introduced and there is a plan to have them in every hospital. “In general, the care that a newborn baby receives de­termines if he dies or lives,” ex­plained Nzabonimpa.

mother and baby

When it comes to mother and child health, Rwanda has made significant progress. (file photo)

New methods like the kangaroo mother care, used to keep new born ba­bies warm, have been introduced and encouraged.  “A mother’s health, especially when preg­nant, is key to the health of the new born, which is why antenatal care is impor­tant,” explained Bikorimana. Parents are taught how to take care of their baby’s health, nutri­tion and hygiene. As it is easier to teach younger people, this is also taught to the youth. “It’s better to know how to handle a situa­tion before it rises,” Bikorimana added.

The percentage of babies deliv­ered by health professionals has increased from 52% in the 2007-08 to 69% in 2010. The proportion of babies delivered at a health fa­cility increased substantially dur­ing the same period, from 45% in 2007-08 to 69% in 2010.

To make health care for chil­dren easier for parents, the Min­istry of Health is implement­ing an integration of different services. “If a mother comes to get immunization for the child, we want to also have a general checkup for the child and give him/her the treatment needed,” explained Nzabonimpa. If pos­sible, the mother will also be treated. “Some of them have to travel a long distance to get to the hospital, so it will be easing their burden.”

With all these strategies and programs, the country has man­aged to reduce child mortality rates recording an infant mortal­ity rate of 50 per 1.000 live births and under-five mortality rate of 76 per 1,000 live births in 2010.

Considering all the improve­ments made against both malaria and pneumococcal disease, and the efforts to take better care of new born babies and under five children, Rwanda is on track to meet the 2015 target of reducing the mortality rates to 28 for in­fants and 50 for under-five chil­dren.

Sudan’s EAC application rejected


East African leaders meeting in Burundian capital, Bujumbura, yesterday, considered and rejected an earlier application by the republic of Sudan to join the East African Community (EAC).

According to the EAC Secretary General, the North African state does not meet requirements set out in the Treaty establishing the Community.

“The summit observed that this application does not meet the criterion on geographical proximity and contiguity and cannot therefore be considered at this point in time,” Amb. Richard Sezibera, said as he read the final communiqué of the 13th Heads of State summit held in Bujumbura.

Sezibera further noted that the summit received a report that the republic of South Sudan, on November 11, 2011, applied to join the block.

“The summit directed the council of ministers to verify this application on the basis of the criteria for admission of foreign countries and submit recommendations to the summit at its tenth extraordinary meeting,” the EAC executive secretary added.

According to the Treaty and the rules on procedure for admission of foreign countries, the criteria requires applicant countries to adhere to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice, among other things.

Applicants must also show potential in contributing to the strengthening of the integration within the east African region, geographical proximity, establishment and maintenance of a market driven economy, and social and economic policies compatible with those of the bloc. After stretched and closed consultations, Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi  and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda  as well as the vice president of Tanzania, Mohamed Bilal and Rwandan Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, adopted several reports.

These include; Fears, concerns and challenges on the political federation and a report by the council of ministers on proposed attainment of a single customs territory.

The host and out-going EAC chair person, President Nkurunziza, noted that the past year registered great achievements in strengthening the Customs Union, and the Common Market protocol.

“Let us then join our efforts in deepening and widening integration. When we are fragmented, we are weak; when we are integrated we are stronger.” Nkurunziza said.

The new EAC chair, President Kibaki, told the gathering that the meeting came at a time when the benefits of regional integration have increasingly become apparent. 

 “The performance of the intra-East African Community trade, for example, has continued on an upward trend over the last five years, rising from about 2 billion US Dollars in 2004 to about three and a half billion US Dollars in 2009,” Kibaki said.

“A closer look at both the exports and imports of each one of the Partner States reveals similar upward trends over the period. This progress has been achieved in partnership with the private sector.”

The new EAC Chairman emphasized the need to further improve the business environment in the region.

“First, there is need to eliminate Non-tariff Barriers that continue to raise the cost of doing business in East Africa significantly. We also need to fast-track the establishment of one-stop border posts at the key border points. These measures will no doubt facilitate trade in the region,” Kibaki said.

12-year basic education program to start in February


Given the remarkable success of the 9-year basic education pro­gram, the government is now seeking to extend it to 12 years. This was also one of the cam­paign pledges made by Presi­dent Kagame in the 2010 elec­tions.

school boys

On the roadto 12 years of education. (file photo)

“Students who have passed senior three exams will now get automatically enrolled into senior 4,” explained the Min­ister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Math­ias Harebamungu, adding that classes will commence in Feb­ruary. “The implementation of the program is for 88% com­plete.”

He clarified that there are currently 77,602 students in se­nior 3, and of those who have passed the exams 54% will be enrolled in general education, 5% in Teaching Training Cen­ters (TTCs) and 41% in techni­cal and vocational training and education (TVET).

The 9-year basic education was sometimes hampered by the lack of classrooms, which led to the double use of the available rooms in morning and afternoon sessions for dif­ferent groups. This time, ac­cording to Harebamungu, the problem has been anticipated, and classroom construction is for 90% finished. He said only finishing touches remain, such as the construction of water tanks or the installation of di­dactic equipment. The schools will also be equipped with bio­gas systems.

Another problem experi­enced in the 9-year program was the inequality between schools when it comes to sci­ence laboratories – leading to complaints that some students were disadvantaged at practi­cal exams. However, the Min­ister said this has been solved by replacing big expensive labs with individual student kits which will contain all equip­ment necessary for the national curriculum.

In addition, all schools will have at least one room re­served for a library. Some two million books have already been dispatched to the Tronc Commun level (O level) in­cluding mathematics, English, physics, chemistry, and com­puter science. And another 314,800 books were also dis­tributed for senior 4 levels.

Kenyan mentors

The new program will ob­viously require an increased number of teachers, and Hare­bamungu announced that 2878 new teachers have been recruited for all levels con­founded, while 244 new ones have been assigned to TVET. As far as the English program for teachers is concerned, he ex­plained that the government has agreed with the Kenyan Teaching Service Commission to bring some 2500 English teachers to Rwanda.

“We have established a pro­gram called ‘School-Based Mentoring’ where we want to improve teachers’ fluency in English, and the Kenyans who will begin working in February will each be assigned to a spe­cific school to help their Rwan­dan colleagues to improve their level of speaking and teaching in English,” the Minister ex­plained. “The budget amounts to Frw 4.5 billion, and remu­neration has been agreed upon with the Kenyan Teaching Ser­vice Commission; so there will be no complaints.”

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Google Maps to promote Rwanda’s tourism


The Rwanda Development Board in partnership with Google has conducted the mapping exercise of Rwanda’s tourism attractions with the objective of increasing access to tourism information on the web.

Google mappers during the Rwanda Tourism MapUp 2012 exercise. (photo Bruno Birakwate)

Google mappers during the Rwanda Tourism MapUp 2012 exercise. (photo Bruno Birakwate)

The so-called Rwanda Tourism MapUp started in Kigali before continuing to Musanze and Rubavu where key touristic features and attractions were mapped to be added to the Google map list.

The mapping will cover hotels, restaurants, road networks, entertainment facilities, banks and forex bureaus, business and shopping centers, historical sites and geographic features among others.

”Rwanda is proud to be the first African country to work with Google, citizen mappers and tourism operators to systematically map all tourism facilities and attractions,” said Rica Rwigamba, RDB’s head of tourism and conservation. “The aim of this exercise is to increase discoverability through search engines where more tourism destinations are chosen by travelers worldwide.”

According to Rwanda’s sustainable tourism development master plan, the Internet is now firmly established as the most important means of communication in global travel industry. It is estimated that around 70% of travel decisions are made using websites.

Forty participants including professional mappers, GIS experts, university students and tourism operators took part in Rwanda Tourism MapUp, and it is planned that updates will be made regularly.

In 2011, tourism sector overtook coffee and tea to become Rwanda’s top foreign exchange earner. This was facilitated by increased flight frequencies by national carrier RwandAir and the arrival in Kigali of new airlines such as KLM. Collaboration among tourism stakeholders when promoting and marketing tourism and increased PR campaigns also boosted Rwanda’s tourism sector, which earned an estimated US$ 216 million in 2011.