The Rwanda-China Alumni Organisation (RCAO) has re-elected its former executive committee that will be tasked with steering the organization to establish a development fund and sustain the existing bilateral relations between the two countries.
RCAO is a Non-Governmental, Non-political Organization conceived in 2012 as a brainchild of former graduates who benefited from the Rwanda-China academic partnership, in which thousands of Rwandans have acquired advanced professional skills and studies from Chinese universities since 1980 through government funding and private partnerships.
The organization has a mission to contribute to a strong linkage between Rwanda and China; improve the Alumni member’s collaboration and information sharing; members’ knowledge and education; assist the community in health, education, well-being among others.
Currently, RCAO alumni has 700 registered members who have graduated with Masters and PhDs from various Chinese Universities including Xiamen, Peking, Shanghai and Jiao Tong universities among others.
During this year’s 3rd General Assembly held May 20, 2023, RCAO members re-elected Theoneste Higaniro, as the Chairperson of the organization and tasked his team to ensure that the organization grows beyond socialization and engagement in community support and outreach activities.
Higaniro will serve this purpose for the next two years alongside with the RCAO Vice- Chairman Epimaque Minani, Treasurer, Florient Nsengiyumva (all re-elected) and new entrant Janet Umuhoza as the Secretary.
This team has previously managed, in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Rwanda contributed in supporting the community during covid-19 by providing 18 tons of food stuff- rice, maize flour, beans, oil, salt and washing soaps, detergents and other basics worth Rwf22.6 million.
The team also held a job fair in 2019 in which 60 fresh and former graduates from China were able to get job placements; and hosted the first Rwanda-China friendship cup photo contest, January 2019, and sought scholarships to do masters and PhDs.
As part of the 2023 action plan, Higaniro said the organization plans to build sustainable financial resources and increase its development activities
“For instance, we plan to establish a Rwf1billion development fund which will help us to be financially sustainable and able to invest in development activities,” Higaniro said.
Higaniro said this fund will be raised through purchase of shares which will cost Rwf5000 per share but not limited to the alumni as a way of expanding funding resources.
The RCAO committee showed that they plan on organizing Community Work together with Chinese Embassy Staff, Upgrade the RCAO Website to act as a job and expertise portal where all former graduates will place their employment data for the job market.
The incoming committee was also tasked to discuss Members Projects and Land use plan following the fact that RCAO bought land in Masaka, Kicukiro district (2,600square meters) without external funding but the land has not been used profitably.
On member project ideas, Janet Umuhoza, a Meteo Rwanda expert trained in China, suggested that RCAO register a local communication company that uses members’ mandarin and Kinyarwanda language expertise to connect Chinese and Rwandan employees.
Other members suggested RCAO to use its connections to start up local companies that produce items commonly imported from China, such as matchboxes and toothpicks
Higaniro said there is need to change governance structure to improve ways of attaining the goals and mission of RCAO and also the next general assembly will also decide these ideas including the Rwf5000 (membership fee) which was instated by the previous assembly before COVID-19.
Considering the RCAO assembly plans, the Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, Wang Xuekun said the organization is a fruitful outcome of China-Rwanda cooperation in people-to-people exchanges, and shows the growth in the energy of this 52-year-old friendship.
Xuekun said he hopes RCAO could play a bigger role in connecting China and Rwanda especially that its members help many Rwandans to go to China and Chinese people come to Rwanda.
“I believe we can together make the organization better known to the public and build it into a great platform for our both communities. For example, this year the Embassy and the Organization are planning to host a job fair, which will create more opportunities for people,” Xuekun said.
Marie Elise Umulisa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Acting Director South and East Asia, extended the government’s appreciation to the people and government of China for their support and commitment to fostering educational cooperation between both countries.
For example, Umulisa said the scholarships and training programs offered by China especially in the TVET programs are playing an important role in empowering young minds with knowledge, skills, and experiences that will shape the future of Rwanda.
To the members of the RCAO, Umulisa encouraged the organization to leverage their wealth of expertise and experiences to advance Rwanda’s development goals in technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and sustainable development.
Umulisa shared two favorite quotes from President Paul Kagame to inspire RCAO to greater heights. These are:
“Work hard until it pains because poverty hurts much more.”
“Vision 2020 was about what we had to do in order to survive and regain our dignity. Vision 2050 has to be about the future we choose.”