Home Business & TechEconomy World Bank Rwanda Country Manager Assures Continued Partnership With Gov’t To Achieve NST2

World Bank Rwanda Country Manager Assures Continued Partnership With Gov’t To Achieve NST2

by Daniel Sabiiti
8:02 pm

Sahr John Kpundeh (left) shakes hands with Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Édouard Ngirente after the courtesy call held at the Office of the Prime Minister, this March 8, 2024.

The newly appointed World Bank (WB)- Rwanda Country Manager has reaffirmed the bank’s commitment and partnership to continue collaborating with the government Rwanda in implementing the upcoming second National Strategy for Transformation (NST2).

Sahr John Kpundeh, was appointed as the new Country Manager for Rwanda, effective September 1, 2023.

Based in Kigali, Kpundeh is tasked to lead the World Bank’s engagement in Rwanda, which includes an active lending portfolio, a vibrant knowledge partnership, and a dynamic dialogue with the Government of Rwanda and a wide range of stakeholders.

Kpundeh, a US national originally from Sierra Leone, has held various positions, including as Advisor in the World Bank’s Governance Global Practice and as Country Manager in South Sudan. His most recent assignment was Country Manager for Zambia.

In his new position, Kpundeh’s priorities will be to deliver on the Bank’s Rwanda Country Partnership Framework (2021–2026)- with a portfolio of over $3billion.

Kpundeh will support the implementation of the WB Evolution Roadmap and innovate its use of financial instruments, working closely with the International Finance Corporation and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and ensure relationships with Rwanda are active across all the agencies; and lead a strong, well-functioning country team to deliver results.

Clock-wise: Sahr John Kpundeh, PM Ngirente, Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana and Elias Turatsinze, Acting Director of Cabinet in the Office of the Prime Minister

As part of executing his new duties in Rwanda, Kpundeh paid a courtesy call to Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Édouard Ngirente` where both leaders discussed the way forward in their relationship which is now 61 years old.

With the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Rwanda has made important economic and structural reforms and sustained steady economic growth rates for over a decade until COVID-19 and its impact threatened to reverse the trend.

Rwanda now aspires to Middle Income Country status by 2035 and High-Income Country status by 2050. It plans to achieve this through a series of seven-year National Strategies for Transformation (NST1), underpinned by sectoral strategies focused on meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The portfolio continues to grow. So we will continue to work together in partnership with the ministry of finance in providing greatly our portfolio support to the government’s agenda in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) and preparations going into NST2,” Kpundeh said.

Kpundeh stated that the bank’s country partnership will continue till fiscal year 2026, where afterwards they will start preparing a new strategy that will be aligned with the government’s NST2.

“So, essentially, the courtesy call was to continue to reaffirm the bank’s partnership with the government in support the government’s agenda and so far we are quite pleased with how the partnership is working,” Kpundeh commented.

Sahr John Kpundeh (left) expressed his satisfaction in partnering and collaboration with Rwanda as one of the World Bank clients

The World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI) scores Rwanda at 0.38, slightly higher than the average for low-income countries but lower than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.

The bank’s country partnership strategy has been similarly aligned with Rwanda’s NST1 in a range of areas such as human capital, infrastructure and urbanization among others- a strategy which remains valid till 2026.

World Bank Rwanda revealed that they will start preparations for a new strategy later this year where they will conduct consultations, setting priorities and so on.

“By then, I suppose, the government’s strategy on NST2 will be out. So we will look at what is in there and because it is a partnership, we prepare our strategy in collaboration with government. So, we will look at government priorities and try to align our support to what the government’s priorities are,” Kpundeh said.

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance, Uzziel Ndagijimana

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance, Uzziel Ndagijimana, told local media that the government is currently preparing the NST2 in partnership with development partners but also commended the World Bank for its continued support.

The recent World Bank Economic update shows that Rwanda’s economy showed resilience despite a challenging economic environment in 2022 and after a strong rebound in 2021 from the COVID-19 induced-contraction in the preceding year but despite these challenges, real GDP grew by 8.2% in 2022.

The update showed that Rwanda’s public-sector-led development model has shown its limitations, with public debt increasing significantly in recent years. Consequently, the debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 56.7% in 2019 (from 19.4% in 2010) and was estimated to have reached 71% of GDP in 2020, following an increase in borrowing needs due to the pandemic.

Kpundeh, takes questions from local media soon after meeting PM Ngirente at his offices in Kimihurura, in Kigali City

However, WB said that going forward, the private sector looks set to play a bigger role in helping to ensure economic growth in Rwanda.

Kpundeh said that this update was an advice to government of Rwanda but as far as debt burden is concerned, this is no longer a concern as the bank continues to work with government to ensure support, with concession of financing and solicit more private sector investment to chip in, to address debt concerns.

“This is a partnership and we continue to listen to the government, what its priorities are and see how best we could support them also try to find ways of mobilizing resources- bring in other sources of financing, players and private sector,” Kpundeh noted.

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