By Emmanuel N. Mugarura
|PRESIDENTIAL CHAT: Presidents Abdoulaye Wade
of Senegal, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Meles Zenawi
of Ethiopia, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, John Kufuor
of Ghana, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Denis Sassou Nguesso
of Congo Brazzavile during the NEPAD summit hosted by
When Rwanda first said it would become a key player in NEPAD
and other regional integrations, critics laughed off her commitment.
Rwanda would, however, have the last laugh, as the country
proved its critics wrong when in February this year, Kigali
hosted a very successful New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) Summit.
At the invitation of President Paul Kagame, the Ninth Summit
of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee
(HSGIC) was held in Kigali.
Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s president and HSGIC
chairperson chaired the summit attended by nine African heads
of state and governments, finance ministers and a United Nations
In his opening speech, President Kagame said he was grateful
to the implementation committee for ensuring that NEPAD becomes
a force for Africa’s comprehensive, integrated and sustainable
“We in Rwanda are committed to the ideals of NEPAD
and we will play our rightful role to ensure that those ideals
for the common good of the African people are realised,”
Mr Kagame told the summit at the Intercontinental Hotel in
Kagame said that since the earlier Maputo meeting, Rwanda
had witnessed an important milestone on the socio-political
Rwandans had in 2003 voted for leaders of their choice through
an election, and through a referendum, the people had voted
for a new constitution.
“At this juncture in the life of our country, we can
confidently join forces with the rest of Africa to tackle
the common challenges that we face…” Kagame confidently
announced. Such is the commitment of Rwanda to regional integration,
and NEPAD in particular, that the government in Kigali has
already formed all the necessary bodies, as required by NEPAD.
“We in Rwanda are making a solemn pledge that we will
abide by the principles that govern the African Peer Review
Mechanism. We are ready to submit ourselves to periodic peer
reviews, and to facilitate such reviews,” President
Kagame said during the summit.
Rwanda, he added, unreservedly shares the judgement that
it is the peer process that will “strengthen our ownership,
consolidate our independence and accountability to our own
people and to each other.”
The NEPAD initiative comes at a time when the continent faces
enormous challenges. However, Kagame believes that the will
and resolve to transcend the challenges are greater than ever
“What remains is to build on the impetus generated
thus far and strengthen the African spirit of solidarity and
partnership, the hallmark of NEPAD.”
The Rwandan leader added, “Only then can we begin to
address the challenges of peace and security on our continent,
democracy, good governance and socio-economic development.”
The Executive Secretary of NEPAD (Rwanda), Mr Charles Gasana,
told The Weekly Observer in an interview that Rwanda would
be ready for inspection by the time the Africa Governance
Forum sits in Kigali in December this year.
“Rwanda will be the first country among the 23 NEPAD
countries to be ready for inspection,” Gasana said.
Rwanda is leading Africa on the African Peer Review Mechanism.
Closer to Rwanda are Mauritius, Ghana and Kenya. Rwanda will
be the first country to be peer reviewed as it has already
set up all the necessary arrangements for the process to go
As the Forum in Kigali recommended, the Rwanda Government
has since formed the focal point at the highest level and
the NEPAD Secretariat is housed in the State House offices,
where the focal point reports directly to the President.
Some countries have formed independent NEPAD ministries;
others are at commission level, while other countries have
formed departments in ministries.
Rwanda has been moving well on governance issues, and Gasana
notes that one of NEPAD’s programmes is democratisation
“We think it is democracy and governance that enhance
development of any kind, that is where peace, security and
integration of partner states is addressed,” Gasana
said in an interview.
At its inception, NEPAD wanted to address such issues that
can bring different states together, but the body insists
on democracy as a benchmark for development.
“Infrastructure, agriculture, health and ICT are the
main benefits in the arrangement. Other things come along
in the process,” Gasana said.
Rwanda is benefiting from two NEPAD programmes already; Comprehensive
African Agricultural Programme (CCADP), which is being financed
by FAO, and the e-schools programme under the African Development
The e-schools programme was commissioned by the African Commission
to disseminate computers and ICTs to schools, especially those
in the rural areas. The aim of the project is to develop ICT
awareness right from the grassroots.
Under CCADP, a study is being done on irrigation, rural roads,
agricultural research, environment and soil management. According
to Gasana, the ADB and Development Bank for Southern Africa
are coming to assess bankable projects in Rwanda for funding.
Rwanda is also a signatory to the Maputo Agreement, which
requires member states to put 10 percent of their annual budget
into agriculture. Under the programme, CCADP will add its
funding to the country’s resources.
Under the NEPAD arrangement, the Rwanda Government will also
benefit from the Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy).
It is a cable project to be laid between Durban and Djibouti
to connect regional member states.
According to Gasana, once this cable link is complete, it
will reduce communication costs by 70 percent. “We have
already done the digging and are laying cables. Once Uganda
gets in, we shall just hook to the line and everything will
be easy for us,” Gasana said.
The 200-million dollar project is already underway, led by
engineers from Kenya Telecom. US$170 million is for physical
installations, while $30 million dollars is set aside for
Gasana said Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda should be connected
to the cable by the end of 2004. “We shall be able to
carry bulk data at ago, e-mail will be faster and cheaper,
but above all, we shall cut on general communication costs,”
Rwandatel, the state-owned telephone service provider, represents
Rwanda on the cable project. Also under NEPAD, Rwanda is to
jointly generate hydro electricity power with Tanzania at
Rusumo, on the border between the two countries. This power
project will be able to supply hydropower to Rwanda, Burundi
Rwanda is also to benefit from a new railway line between
Kigali and the eastern Tanzania town of Isaka. Gasana said
that the rails will be laid by 2005.
The project funded by the ADB is designed to improve transport
and help Rwanda access the coast easily. Rwanda currently
has no railway network and uses the roads to transport her
bulk imports and exports. Once in place, the railway will
help in transporting bulk exports such as coffee, tea and
“By next year, the oil pipeline that connects Eldoret
to Bujumbura should be in progress. Once Uganda gets, we shall
again also be on line to connect,” Gasana said.
Once the pipeline is complete, fuel prices will go down substantially
and the roads will be saved greatly, the Rwandan official
Gasana observed that Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi spend
a lot of money over time to repair roads destroyed by fuel
tankers that transport petroleum products from Eldoret to
“We shall have got a quicker and convenient way of
transporting petroleum products with minimal damage to the
infrastructure and reduce the dangers and risks.”