News Column

Taking Stock of AfDB's Partnership With Rwanda

May 16, 2014

Collins Mwai

As Rwanda gears up to host the weeklong 49th African Development Bank (AfDB) General Assembly under the theme, "The Next 50 Years: The Africa We Want," which will also double up as the 42nd Africa Development Fund meeting, the country will mark a 40 year partnership with the Bank. Collins Mwai assesses the impact of the partnership over the years.

For 40 years, Rwanda has partnered with AfDB, with the Bank's total grants and loans to the country amounting to $1.65 billion that has benefited a total of 98 projects.

Speaking to The New Times, Negatu Makonnen, the AfDB resident representative, said the Bank's support to the transport sector has taken up about a third of their current portfolio.

"More than 250 kilometres of highway and feeder roads have been constructed, rehabilitated or improved to help entrepreneurs improve access to markets. We have tried to ensure a good transport network within Rwanda and link the country to its neighbours," Makonnen said.

"So far, two one-stop-border posts have been set up (near Burundi) at Nemba and Ruhwa border posts. This has helped immensely in reducing cost of business while also giving the economy a better connection to internal and external markets and boosting regional integration," he said.

The partnership between the Bank and Rwanda has also seen close to 800,000 Rwandans gain access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

The African Development Bank was also involved in the implementation of the Girinka (one-cow-per-family) project that has benefitted needy households countrywide.

The Bank has also supported the promotion of science and technology in the country by extending support to institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University and University of Rwanda'sCollege of Science and Technology.

The private sector has also been a beneficiary of the partnership.

"Sixty-four private sector SME's have been supported, creating about 4000 new jobs with almost 1,200 of the beneficiaries being women," Makonnen said.

Skills development

To further see the development of the private sector, there has been a sector loan targeting methane exploration in contributing to cheaper renewable energy.

Finance and Economic Planning minister Claver Gatete said AfDB also supports the Rwanda skills, employability and entrepreneurship programme to help enhance inclusive growth.

Through the programme, about 74,000 people have so far acquired technical and vocational skills.

The minister said the largest share of the Bank's support has been allocated to infrastructure, which took up 31.7 per cent, followed by Agriculture which took 24.9 per cent.

Social sector has accounted for 17.1 per cent, while finance, industry, communications and environment took 5.2 per cent.

Makonnen said working with Rwanda over the years has been fruitful as the government established a good governance and accountability system to ensure that all public funds were audited and the findings forwarded to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee for scrutiny.

Both Makonnen and Minister Gatete said in the long-term, they hoped the Bank will serve as an effective development partner in the second economic development and poverty reduction strategy through support in transport, energy, private sector and youth employment areas.

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Source: AllAfrica

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