When President Paul Kagame was re-elected in 2010 and formed his government, the then Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, as required by article 118 of the Constitution, presented the Government Programme for the President’s 7-year mandate to both chambers of Parliament.
Already during his election campaign, President Kagame had made it clear that he would maintain the priorities of his first mandate while building on the achievements made during that period, with the overall goal of transforming Rwanda from a poor country into a middle-income nation.
Seven years later, and 23 years after the RPF stopped the Genocide against the Tutsis, liberated the country from discriminatory and hateful politics, and led Rwandans on the path to socioeconomic liberation, it is time to assess what has been achieved of the government programme which was based on the four pillars of Good Governance, Justice, Economic Development and Social Wellbeing.
Decision- and policy-making has been brought closer to the people through a decentralised administration. In the past seven years, the decentralization policy has been enhanced and people’s participation in electing their leadership has continuously increased. This was paired with a revision of the law governing decentralized entities to clearly define responsibilities of the local entities.
This clearly has had an effect on people’s participation: in 2011, participation in parliamentary elections reached 96%, while the average citizen participation in Umuganda is 78.1%. This sense of social responsibility might also be linked to the principle of accountability taking firm root in society, as the imihigo (performance contracts) were extended to the umudugulu and even family level, while citizen’s consultation is mandatory in establishing the district imihigo.
Further progress was also made in enhancing unity and reconciliation among Rwandans, as research conducted by National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in 2012 indicates that Rwanda Reconciliation & Social Cohesion Barometer stands at 80%.
To strengthen the sense of civic responsibility and ownership, citizens are regularly sensitized on government programs in different fora including Umuganda, Ministers’ visits and other meetings with citizens, while the Ndi Umunyarwanda program is implemented. Furthermore, the National Itorero Commission (NIC) was established, and currently, 70% of Rwandans from 7 years old participate in Itorero. A voluntary national service policy has been put in place, and over 90,000 Rwandan youth have so far enrolled in it. Much attention has also been given to improving customer service in both public and private institutions, with the Rwanda Development Board spearheading activities to enhance customer care and good service delivery. To measure the progress, the Citizens Report Card was introduced to allow the population give its assessment of mainly public service delivery, and it reveals a drastic increase in people’s satisfaction with service delivery at local level.
In the same context, the government has sustained the policy of zero-tolerance of corruption and injustice, with an overhaul of the law governing the Office of Ombudsman, the enactment of a law protecting whistle-blowers and a revision of the leadership code of conduct. Hotlines were set up at the national level to report suspected corruption, and corruption-related cases are given priority in court. The Office of the Ombudsman also publishes a list of people convicted of corruption.
As a result, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (2013) ranks Rwanda 49th worldwide and 4th in Africa.
Revision of laws, orders and regulations where necessary, enacting new ones to align them with contemporary situations and issues in the interest of Rwandans for accelerated political, social, economic and financial development is an ongoing process. In this respect, the Rwanda Law Reform Commission was created and later reformed to cater for legal drafting and translation functions
Cooperation between security organs has been enhanced by joint efforts on sharing information regarding suspicious of subversive activities, and security personnel is regularly trained and equipped to be able to curb any national security threat, including cybercrime.
There is continued sensitization of the population to report any threat or information on possible crimes, reinforced by the training of nearly 77,947 people in community policing.
Rwanda’s Disaster Resilience was also enhanced through various measures such as the establishment of early-warning systems and fast responder teams.
Promotion of good relations with friendly countries, especially in Africa, has continued through bilateral visits by high-level officials, including numerous official visits by the Head of State. New embassies and consulates have been opened in countries where Rwanda has major interests.
Negotiations on the East African Monetary Union were concluded and the EAC Monetary Union Protocol and its implementation roadmap await ratification by the National Parliaments of the EAC Partner States.
Last but not least, the Cessation Clause for Rwandan Refugees is being implemented, which means that Rwandans will no longer be recognised as refugees since peace and security are ensured in the country.
For the past seven years, the government has spent a lot of energy to enhance capacity building among youth to reduce and keep the number of jobless youth below 5%.
Among other initiatives, a 5-year National Employment Programme (NEP) has been put in place, while the promotion of youth cooperatives has led to the creation of 1664 groups.
At the same time, programmes have been deployed to promote youth’s good health and positive mindset with a view of preventing drugs and alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour, notably through the establishment of youth clubs at the local level.
Gender mainstreaming, or entrenching the principle of gender equality (equity) in all programmes of the country, has been effected, as well as monitoring its inclusion in budget planning for all organs and implementation of all laws enhancing it.
Women have also been encouraged to become cooperative members, seek loans from lending agencies and to line up their activities to market demands; As of March 2014, 674,327 women out of 1,711,750 SACCO applicants had accessed SACCO loans, and women accessed 26.9% of the total SACCO loan share. From 2011 to 2012, loans acquired by women increased by 231%, and by 27.2% in 2013
In each health centre, the Isange programme to assist victims of violence has been integrated, while 300,000 men and women from different sectors have been sensitized on gender-based violence (GBV), labour and land organic laws. Police statistics indicated that reported GBV cases reduced by 3.9% in 2012, which has also been achieved thanks to radio talk-shows and continuous community campaigns.
A new NGO law provides mechanisms of transparency in NGO management. The organisations are registered by the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) which offers financial and technical support to NGOs and CSOs with viable development projects.
At the district level, NGOs and other development partners operate within the Joint Action Development Forums (JADF) through which their activities are aligned with the Government’s development agenda.
Moreover, government institutions have started outsourcing services to local NGOs, such as the management of orphanages and agricultural extension roles.
A Media Capacity Building Strategy was developed, and its implementation started in 2013.
There has also been sensitisation of private operators to invest in media, which has resulted in the creation of private televisions such as TV 10, Lemigo TV, GO TV, Family TV, Gospel TV and TV1. Internet based TV such as Igihe TV are also broadcasting.
The Media High Council was reorganised to enable media self-regulation, and a self-regulatory commission was established to ensure discipline of the media practitioners.
Justice has been made more accessible to ordinary citizens with the creation of Mediation Committees (Abunzi) and ‘Maisons d’Accès à la Justice’ (MAJ). More than 80% of disputes under the competence of mediation committees are solved, thereby significantly reducing the workload of courts.
In order to speed up the execution of court decisions, the functioning of bailiffs has been streamlined. And to reduce the pressure on detention facilities, community service (TIG) as an alternative penalty to imprisonment was extended to ordinary crimes. Different programs including training unity and reconciliation are in place to help ‘Tigistes’ to reintegrate into the community.
In order to track genocide perpetrators and bring them to trial either in their host countries or in Rwanda, the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit (GGFTU) was strengthened with additional and upgraded staff. Some countries such as the Netherlands and Canada, and the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), have extradited genocide fugitives to Rwanda.
A documentation centre for Gacaca archives has been completed and is accessible to all interested users, while the digitisation process of documents is ongoing.
In order to address genocide ideology, the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) was strengthened. Currently, the Commission is specifically focusing on fighting against impunity, combating genocide denial and genocide ideology, research on genocide and improving the welfare of genocide survivors. Meanwhile, campaigning against genocide and its ideology continues in schools, communities, workplaces and through public events. At the same time, Rwandans and foreigners are encouraged to speak out and write about the genocide. Genocide memorial sites are being maintained and rehabilitated, and four of them have been included among the World Heritage Sites: Gisozi, Ntarama, Murambi and Bisesero.
Rwanda has ratified and adopted several international human rights conventions such as the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the Protocol on the convention against torture and the protocol to the covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others.
Teaching and sensitization of Rwandans about their basic human rights has been enhanced.
Among the flagship policies to improve agriculture are land consolidation, use of improved seeds and fertilizers, fighting soil erosion, mechanization, irrigation and encouraging farmers to grow crops that are more productive and profitable in their regions. Land consolidated in season 2015-A covered 815,841 ha (83%).
More than a million farmers joined the Twigire muhinzi groups in their villages, and in Season 2015-B the programme set up more than 10,000 demonstration plots and 5,500 learning plots which together reached more than half a million farmers.
Marshland and hillside irrigation have been promoted with the aim of increasing the irrigated area from 13,000 ha to 100,000 ha – in Season 2015-A it stood at 39,160 ha.
Various initiatives have also been launched to increase the quantity and quality of traditional export crops, and the output by the end of 2015 was as follows:
Horticulture is being developed with more land made available and training of farmers to diversify agricultural exports.
All these activities on the ground have also been supported by extension services such as:
District and sector agronomists and veterinary officers
In order to increase livestock production (meat, milk, eggs, hides and skins, fish) fishing, cattle and small stock farming has been promoted.
As a result, food security has significantly improved while malnutrition has decreased:
To promote industry, the Kigali Special Economic Zone is under development. Phase I (98 ha, 62 investors) is completed, with 15 investors already operating while 42 others are undergoing construction and the rest are still mobilising resources. For Phase II (178 ha, 15 investors), 80% of all the plots are fully booked and infrastructure development is 64% complete.
Trade has been boosted by the construction of several cross-border markets as well as the organisation of trade fairs at home and participation in those abroad.
In the context of the East African Community, the EAC customs union and common market protocols were Implemented and a commodities exchange market was launched. Together with Uganda and Kenya some tripartite projects were launched including studies for the standard-gauge railway, the implementation of the single customs territory and single tourist visa, as well as the use of national IDs, student identity cards and voters’ cards as travel documents.
In order to promote domestic production, especially of imports substitutes, MINICOM has designed a Domestic Market Recapturing Strategy (DMRS) to increase domestic production for local consumption. The DMRS is designed to save $450 million per year or 17.8% of the import bill in 5 years.
As for tourism, a national tourism master plan is being implemented, with as one of its flagship programmes the promotion of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism, in which context the landmark Kigali Convention Centre was built and already hosted several major conferences.
At the same time, a Domestic Tourism Strategy was developed to encourage Rwandans to visit their own tourism sites.
Road construction and rehabilitation is an ongoing process, with hundreds of kilometres of roads having been constructed or rehabilitated in the past seven years, and numerous projects in progress or in the pipeline.
Preparations for the construction of the Isaka-Kigali railway (494 km) are progressing.
The expansion of Kigali International Airport has been completed, while an MoU was signed with an investor for the new Bugesera International Airport. Renovation and extension of Rubavu and Kamembe airports is ongoing.
Feasibility studies and detailed design for modern ports on Lake Kivu (Rubavu, Karongi and Rusizi) were completed in January 2015. The 7-year program also envisaged increasing electricity generation more than tenfold from 85MW to 1000MW by 2017 through the following projects, among others:
These initiatives go hand in hand with efforts to increase the number of Rwandans having access to electricity from 10% to 70% by 2017 (48% on-grid and 22% off-grid). By end June 2015, 23% was connected to the grid.
Meanwhile, projects are implemented specifically in rural areas to produce energy from solar, wind, biogas and other sources, including an 8.5MW solar project in Rwamagana (operational), 50 health centres and 300 schools equipped with solar panels, as well as 3719 domestic and 74 institutional biogas plants installed.
All this will be supplemented by electricity interconnection with neighbouring countries to facilitate exchange of electricity.
As for water and sanitation, the 2017 target is for all Rwandans to have access to clean and proper sanitation. As per the EICV4, access to clean water is 84.8% while to improved sanitation 83.4%.
Construction master plans for all districts have been finished.
A national affordable housing policy has been completed, while a national urbanisation policy as well as a densification strategy have been elaborated. Investors are also being mobilised to finance affordable housing projects.
Meanwhile, grouped settlement in rural areas (imidugudu) has been promoted, and today 78% of the population live in grouped settlement, while it is estimated that 17.6% is living in urban areas (against a target of 30%).
With the Public-Private Dialogue, a platform was created to discuss issues of private sector growth. At the same time, the Private Sector Federation has strengthened the professional associations, and these have acquired the mutual recognition agreements with their EAC counterparts.
Mechanisms have also been put in place to facilitate investors in securing loans, especially those in the small and medium enterprises; first among them is the Business Development Fund (BDF) which provides guarantees to obtain loans. It is currently in the process of decentralising all its services.
Through the implementation of cross-cutting strategies, Rwanda has become the 62nd best country globally to do business, according to the World Bank, and the 2nd best in Africa.
The Government also established a labour information system that tracks employment creation, and consolidated different job creation initiatives into a National Employment Programme to reduce unemployment and keep it below 5%.
Individual tradespeople have been encouraged to get together in cooperatives, with for example 2105 farmers’ cooperatives formed out of a target of 3,500. In addition, 120 unions, 13 federations and one confederation of cooperatives were formed to make their products and services more competitive. Cooperative inspection and audit services have been strengthened and decentralised.
At the national and district level, land use master plans have been approved to manage land for increased productivity. A portal for land use was launched in 2014 (www.rwandalanduse.rnra.rw), and the Land Administration and Information System (LAIS) is operational in all districts. This has sped up land registration and issuance of land titles to enable investment in land resources – 10.6 million plots were registered and 8,604,407 leases issued.
To fight erosion, radical and progressive terraces were created and through maintenance of existing forest and reforestation, 29.8% of Rwanda’s territory is now covered by forests (target: 30% by 2017). In addition, a Forest Productivity Measurement methodology and a Forest Monitoring Information System (FMIS) have been designed.
Other measures have been taken to increase capacities in coping up with climate change and implement the national strategy on climate change and low carbon projects, and the Green Economy has been mainstreamed in the EDPRS-2. Green Several green and climate resilient villages were established, helped by the creation of the Environment and Climate Change Fund (FONERWA), which already has mobilized Rwf 52 billion in grants.
Cabinet approved the National Broadband Policy in September 2013, which paves the way for new broadband interventions.
Mobile cellular subscription has reached 75.5%, and mobile broadband 28%.
All Government bodies are connected to the national fibre optic backbone, to which 579 government and private sector institutions are connected. This has led to an increasing number of government services being available online through the Irembo network.
The second phase of deploying the 4G last-mile network is in progress, and will connect all schools, health centres, sectors, cells as well as citizens and businesses across the country.
A 5-year program for priority skills sectors (infrastructure; agriculture; natural resources; investment, trade and industry, ict; health and education) was approved. Under the National Employment Program (NEP), a Labour Market Information System (LMS) was established to facilitate efficient and effective collection of information on employment and labour.
Service delivery at health facilities has been improved, and all national referral hospitals and district hospitals have a Quality Improvement or Quality Assurance committee.
With the introduction of ‘mutuelle de santé,’ health insurance has become available to all and subscription rates reached 80.72% by the end of 2015. To ensure easy access to healthcare, health posts, centres and hospitals are constantly being constructed, renovated and upgraded.
Concurrently, strategies have been implemented to strengthen the prevention and treatment of epidemic diseases. Regarding malaria, for instance, 84% of households owned at least one impregnated mosquito net by 2013, thanks to a policy that saw more than 10 million nets distributed between 2009 and 2014, and a campaign of indoor spraying in districts with very high malaria endemicity.
Significant efforts have also been made to eradicate malnutrition, especially through programs such as Girinka, kitchen gardens, one cup of milk for children and the school feeding program. Since 2010 a multi-sector plan to eliminate malnutrition has been implemented, among others through a 1000 days campaign and annual screening of malnutrition for children below the age of 5.
Awareness campaigns on hygiene and sanitation using TV, radio and community work have also been organized.
Through initiatives such as the Vision Umurenge Program (VUP), the government has tackled extreme poverty by assisting the vulnerable to recover from poverty and bring down the number of Rwandans below the poverty line ($1 per day) below 20%.
This also includes special attention for Genocide survivors, with among others the following achievements by 2014:
The National Council of Persons living with Disabilities (PWD) is operational, and a national policy and strategic plan on disability are in place. Categorization of PWD was launched to better provide them with adequate assistance, and some 22,000 people have been categorized.
In the National Sports Development Policy, adopted in 2013, the government has set the ambitious target of being ranked in the top 10 in Africa for football, and among the top 3 in basketball, volleyball, cycling, athletics and paralympic sports.
The government continues to invest in improved sports infrastructure, with as flagship programs the construction of a new national stadium for football with seating capacity of at least 60,000 (for which a piece of land of 60ha in Gahanga sector has been secured), new volleyball and basketball indoor stadia as well as an Olympic village in Nyanza.
At the same time, private investors are encourage to finance infrastructure and promote sports and leisure through establishment of sports schools.
Programs are also in place to develop skills in sports, both through enhanced training of coaches and referees and by giving special attention to talented youth. In this respect, the government has invested in new sports infrastructure in selected schools in every province and the city of Kigali.
The 9-year Basic Education program was put in practice, with specific emphasis on vocational schools, and was expanded to 12 years. It reached its target in 2014 by enrolling students in the 6th year of secondary school.
12,410 new classrooms were built to support the program, and about 308 new TVET schools were built between 2010 and 2014.
In primary, the pupils/teacher ratio is 58:1(while the target is 46:1) and in secondary it is 30:1.
Read this article and more in issue n° 76 of Hope Magazine.