Rwanda gov't gets World Bank credit for road transport

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The Rwandan government and the World Bank on Monday signed a financing agreement worth of 81 million U.S. dollars for the  reconstruction of the 66.5-km road network in Rwanda.

The credit provided under International Development Association (IDA) is expected to support Rwanda’s transport sector under the Lake Victoria Transport Project (LVTP).

It aims to improve the efficient and safe movement of goods and people along the regional corridor from the Rwanda-Tanzania border crossing at Rusumo in Ngoma district to the Rwanda-Burundi border crossing at Nemba in Bugesera district and Rusizi district.

The project is the first in a series of three in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, according to the World Bank. They are part of the Lake Victoria Transport Program prepared under the Integrated Corridor Development Initiative in the East Africa Community countries.

“Due to the poor state of this road, the road users are occasionally cut off from the rest of the country, particularly during the rainy season,” said Claver Gatete, Rwandan minister of finance and economic planning.

More than 500,000 people living along the road corridor from Kibugabuga to Gasoro are expected to benefit from the project implementation.

“LVTP is expected to provide better access to rural communities living alongside the road corridor that rely almost exclusively on agriculture and livestock for their subsistence,” said Muhammad Zulfiqar Ahmed, World Bank task team leader of LVTP.

He said the project will stimulate new jobs and income earning opportunities to the people in Ngoma, Bugesera and Nyanza districts through upgrading and maintenance works as well as downstream development activities generated along the corridor as a result of the improved access.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) --The Rwandan minister of natural resources on Monday said the country has strengthened its commitment to green economic transformation.

The African country on Monday joined the rest of the world to mark the World Environment Day with a focus on making transition to the green economy, protecting the environment and addressing adverse effects of climate change.

Vincent Biruta said at the celebrations held in Gakenke District, Northern Rwanda that the country has strengthened its commitment to green economic transformation and efforts are being made to ensure that within the next two years, Rwanda will have significantly reduced oil-based energy.

World Environment Day takes place every June 5 since 1972. This year’s observance is under the theme “Connecting People to Nature”.

Activities to mark the day included sensitization campaigns aimed at promoting renewable energy and green homes, building villages integrating greening components such as rain water harvesting, waste disposal facilities, renewable cooking stoves like using biogas or gas cookers among others.

Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy was launched in 2011 as one of the key steps to ensure the country is prepared for the risks associated with climate change and population growth.

The country is among the only 20 institutions globally accredited to access the Green Climate Fund from which the government will leverage substantial funding for climate change adaptation projects.

In 2008, Rwanda passed a law that banned the importation and use of polythene bags, while possession or smuggling them into the country attracted heavy penalties.

About 714,102 hectares of the country’s landscape are expected to be entire forests reserves before the year 2020, up from 694,402 hectares, according to the ministry of natural resources.

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KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda is looking for potential foreign and local investors to develop decent and affordable housing units for the growing urban population, said the ministry of infrastructure on Thursday.

Affordable housing is one of the targets entailed in the country’s infrastructure development blueprint under the urbanization and rural settlement sector.

Speaking at the Rwanda public-private sector meeting on developing affordable housing in the capital city Kigali, James Musoni, Rwandan minister of infrastructure said that the country is still virgin for investments in affordable housing units that can benefit low and middle-income earners.

“The government is ready to avail enough land for investors who will invest in affordable housing. We are putting in much effort to enable Rwandans in urban setting to have affordable decent homes. We need strong and increased investments in this sector,” he added.

The one-day meeting is aimed at creating an opportunity for stakeholders in the housing and financial institutions with active investments in the real estate sector to network, sharing strategies for a national affordable housing agenda.

In Kigali, the most expensive residential house costs approximately 1 million U.S. dollars (about 836 million Rwandan francs) while the lowest decent ones go for 36,496 dollars, according to real estate developers.

City of Kigali authorities says that the total demand for new housing units in the country’s Capital Kigali is likely to hit 344,068 units by 2022.

According to the ministry of infrastructure, the government is expected to allocate funds estimated to be between 200 million dollars and 250 million dollars to speed up the construction of affordable housing units to help reduce the country’s housing deficit.

The money will be used to subsidize mortgage loans or directly provide funding to private developers at low interest rates.

Rwanda is also targeting to increase its urbanization rate to 35 percent and create secondary cities in six years.

The country has put in place an investment code that provides additional incentives for investors. It offers tax incentives to affordable housing developers, including preferential corporate income tax rate, and accelerated depreciation for investments in construction projects worth 1.8 million dollars.

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KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) --Rwanda believes in open borders to help unlock Africa’s full potential, the country’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo has said.

Speaking at a meeting of Africa’s intelligence and security chiefs in Kigali on Saturday, Mushikiwabo said open borders could help accelerate Africa’s integration.

She downplayed fears that free movement of people would directly cause insecurity and trigger economic hardships.

“Seychelles, the only African country on the continent to offer visa-free access for all Africans and the most open country to Africans, is also secure and has no particular social and economic challenge,” she told the meeting, adding that open borders would encourage close cooperation.

“There is no way for our countries to trade with one another, contribute to each other’s economies without an open Africa,” she said. “We must find a secure, legal way to allow Africans to cross from one country to another.”

The chairperson of Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), Rwanda’s Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita, said free movement would help to enhance trade and prosperity on the continent.

Proponents of free movement of people on the continent point to increased investment opportunities and job creation.

The security chiefs expressed readiness to increase coordination and sharing of intelligence to address security challenges that could be presented by free movement.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of Rwanda hosted the CISSA workshop under the theme of “Free Movement of Persons in Africa” from May 26-28.

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KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The News Times, a major newspaper in Rwanda, on Thursday published an article telling benefits of the Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) launched earlier this week.

The 480-km SGR stretches from the port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital Nairobi, involving a total investment of 3.8 billion U.S. dollars, which makes it Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since its independence.

It is the first step in the grand plan to build an East Africa railway network that will eventually link Kenya with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. An extension of the Nairobi-Mombasa line, the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR, has already begun construction.

Operationalization of the SGR in Kenya could ease financing of the rest of the project to Rwanda through Uganda, the newspaper quoted Rwandan experts as saying.

The SGR, part of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects Initiative, is expected to ease and reduce the cost of movement of people and goods across the region, said the article, which was published as a headline story on the front page.

Both Rwanda and Kenya are part of the northern corridor integration initiative that includes Uganda and South Sudan. The initiative is aimed at easing trade on the route that connects Kigali to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, where over 40 percent of the country’s imports are received.

Innocent Safari, Rwanda’s national coordinator of Northern Corridor Integration Projects, told The New Times that the development is proof of the feasibility of the project and could ease aspects such as financing.

Safari, the former permanent secretary of Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs of Rwanda, said the cost of logistics is expected to drastically reduce, consequently the cost of doing business as well.

Rwanda was hoping to finalize the feasibility study this July, said Safari, adding that the project is “a big development for the entire region.”

Patience Mutesi, the Rwanda country director of TradeMark East Africa, said the development is likely to trigger further price reduction, read the article.

In the past few years, a number of Chinese-built railways have appeared on the horizon of the whole African continent, including the Africa’s first transnational electrified railway connecting Ethiopia and Djibouti, a 1,344-km Benguela Railway linking up Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and the first standard gauge railway modernization project undertaken by Nigeria.

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