The two-day National Dialogue Umushyikirano 2024 held last week was as fruitful as many citizens’issues ranging from social, economic and governance addressed soon or this year.
During the national dialogue, January 23-24, 2024 Rwandans heard several commitments that government officials made to resolve the pending issues.
Rwandans heard that so far 200 large buses have been purchased by the government (and loaned to private operators) to resolve the issue of long queues at bus stops and taxi parks especially in the city of Kigali.
The Prime Minister, Édouard Ngirente said that 100 of these buses have already arrived and are operating in Kigali with plans to increase the reach.
Ngirente promised that more 100 buses are expected in February and another 140 buses have been ordered to reduce the issues around transportation.
“This program started in Kigali but will be extended to the provinces,” Ngirente said.
Dieudonne Byiringiro, a maize farmer in Nyanza district raised concerns over unpaved roads connecting Nyanza to Bugesera districts, alleging the mud roads don’t favor transporting agriculture produce to reach markets especially in the Mayaga area.
Minister of Infrastructure, Engineer Jimmy Gasore said that these will be maintained in addition to number of bridges to be constructed following the fact that about 58 bridges were destroyed due to disasters.
Engineer Gasore said that by next year, the bridges will be repaired and with hope, even the roads will be rehabilitated.
On the technical education subject, Alphonse Ngabonziza, an entrepreneur from Burera district said that they have trained many students in technical education but lack an Integrated Crafts Production Centers (ICPC) commonly known as “Agakiriro” to work from.
Trade Minister Dr. Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze promised to work with the National Employment program to resolve the matter.
Gerald Niyitegeka, a technician inspired by the President at a YouthConnect meeting, said he managed to start his own business (Environment Conserve) that produces environmentally friendly cooking stoves.
Niyitegeka stated that he has not received a Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) operation certification to increase production yet he employs 30 youth (including 3 graduates) and produces 5,000 stoves per month but has only sold over 8,000 stoves.
“This gives us income and four of us have built houses.The problem is that our product has not been tested for certification and that makes us lose markets. I submitted the samples in September last year but was given a promise to get the documents for May 2024,” Niyitegeka explained.
Ngabitsinze said that the stoves are tested between 3-5 days but the demand has increased the queues, therefore they decided with RSB to work day and night to reduce the demand to get test result that has accumulated to delays in months.
“But we also found it is necessary to have another (second) laboratory and by the end of this year we think we shall have one,” Ngabitsinze promised.
Rwanda has 1,252 health posts across the country, but statistics presented by the ministry of health showed that 9% of them (privatized) are not functional.
Minister of Health Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana said that this was a result of the private owners abandoning their responsibilities but new regulations have been put in place to manage the operations of the privately owned health posts.
“These nine percent, will in a short time, in collaborations with districts, get new able owners,” Nsanzimana assured.
With the need to reduce delays to reach health facilities, the Minister of Health revealed that the country will acquire 200 ambulances by the end of this year to enhance healthcare delivery.
Nsanzimana stated that at least 200 new ambulances have already been purchased and ordered to be delivered this month.
“By the end of this year , the issue of shortage of ambulances will have been fixed ,” Nsanzimana said.
In a few months Nsanzimana committed the medics who are willing to work from distant locations will be facilitated to travel and stay at their work stations; and that this facilitation will be part of motivation to proper welfare.
Marie-Gorretti Cyomuzaza, a member of COPRORIZ-Ntende cooperative in Gatsibo district thanked the government for supporting their rice cooperative which now owns a two-star hotel, a pharmacy and pension for its members.
She said that there is a need to restore the wetlands of Warufu and Kabeza (which have 1,000 hectares) to improve their activities.
Renata Mukamana, a maize farmer cooperative head from Kibirizi sector,Nyanza district also asked that the same is done for the Mwogo wetland so as to increase productivity and food security in four districts (Ruhango, Nyanza, Huye and Nyamagabe).
She also asked for an irrigation project for Gasozi farmers to deal with long dry spells in the Mayaga area.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Ildephonse Musafari said that 3000 ha Warufu wetland is one the 30 wetlands that will be restored in the next three years.
“The feasibility studies are on, by next year, the machines will be working on the Warufu wetland rehabilitation and the Kabeza wetland will be added on the plan and considered as we get more capacity,” Musafiri said, and so is the Mwogo wetland which is already considered.
The dialogue heard that the government is focusing on having 60% of students study technical skills and that 70% of the students who graduate in technical education get jobs in the first year after graduation.
Based on this, the Minister of Education, Gaspard Twagirayezu said that the University of Rwanda (UR) will soon establish a modern College of veterinary medicine and research at the Nyagatare Campus.
Twagirayezu also announced that by the end of 2024 all schools with electricity will have access to internet so as to improve ICT education and programming.
Moses Mugisha Gashirabake, a Rwandan Diaspora member and investor in Canada said the role of diaspora remittences are increasing but there is need to put up a trusted platform to do two things- send remittences and invest in a trusted manner.
Jeanine Munyeshuli, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and economic planning said that diaspora remittances as of last three years exceeded foreign direct investments (FDI) and as of 2023 remittances stood at $470million.
“We are planning to establish an electronic platform at the Capital Markets Authority (Rwanda) and a fund which can be used for pooling resources but before we do so, we are encouraging them to buy shares in companies or invest in housing as you have done,” Munyeshuli said.
On the same diaspora issue of having a data-base platform, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Vincent Biruta said that the platform will be unveiled in February.
“We shall unveil this platform in the next few days, next month during the 2024 Rwanda Day in Washington DC,” Biruta promised.