As required by article 98 of the constitution of the republic of Rwanda, the president of the republic has the right to address the Nation. It is in this regard that President Paul Kagame addressed the nation at parliament building in Kimihurura in the presence of dignitaries from the government, the parliament as well as the diplomatic corps and development partners.
President Kagame started his speech by underlining the importance of peace and security that Rwanda is enjoying. He presented statistics showing Rwanda’s economy performance. He noted that the economy should be better had development partners not suspended aid due to the report of the “UN group experts” that was accusing Rwanda of supporting M23, a rebel group in Eastern DRC.
He said that Rwanda’s GDP has grown at the rate of 6.6% when you consider the statistics of the first and second quarter.”Our exports fetched 449 Millions US dollars from January to October. There was a 27% increase compared to last year”, indicated the president. He pointed out that most commodities Rwanda sent to the international markets came from agriculture sector.
He went on saying that the government is proud of the creation of the East African commodities exchange that will be helping producers of agriculture and husbandry commodities to access a permanent market for their produce in the EAC region.
Production from mining has also increased compared to last year. In the first 6 months of this year, exports of minerals brought in more than RWF 30 billion compared to RWF 39 billion that were fetched last year.
The president said that investments keep on increasing year by year a fact that the government is proud of. He referred to the World Bank report that ranks how countries stand when it come to easing investment. “This year Rwanda jumped from 52th position worldwide to 32th position. In Africa, Rwanda is on the second position”, noted president Kagame amid applause from the audience.
He highlighted the country achievement when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment by pointing out the trust international markets have shown to Rwanda. “As you know this year we raised a debt of USD 400 million Eurobonds at the international markets. The latter were ready to lend us 8.3 times the amount we had requested. All this show the trust international markets have in Rwanda”. He went on saying that investments in the first 6 months of this year have already brought in RWF 456 billion compared to RWF 538 billion the whole of last year.
Tourism continues to be Rwanda’s top foreign exchanges earner. President Kagame noted that in the first 9 months, Rwanda received 714 508 visitors that brought in USD 217,700, 000. He mentioned the performance of banks and micro finance that keep on delivering good services to the private sector. He said that from September last year to September this year, the amount of money that was deposited in financial institutions increased by 19.8%.
This situation has enabled banks to provide loans to the private sector which have increased by 13%. Insurance was another sector that showed positive development. The president said that new insurance companies have started their operations in Rwanda. Their worth is now estimated at RWF 224 billion compared to RWF 184 billion last year meaning that insurance companies have registered a 22% increase.
Agriculture and husbandry sector
President Kagame said that this sector has registered a 5.4% increase compared to last year. Tea and coffee have been highly rated at the international markets. “What is important is to keep increasing the output in this sector and transform its produce to create more jobs”, noted the president. He advised farmers to keep water from the rain and use it in dry season.
Girinka program kept on a good pace by changing the livelihood of Rwandans. The president said that more than 184, 000 cows have been distributed throughout the country. He noted that this program has helped to lift many Rwandans out of poverty and has ameliorated their diet.
President Kagame said that the government has to work hard so that all Rwandans can have access to clean water and electricity in the near future. “I am not happy with the achievement in this sector because there are more that should be done and I don’t understand the reasons of the slow pace”, warned the president. He asked authorities that are involved in this sector to deliver soon because water and electricity are needed for the countries to achieve its development targets
He noted that new roads are being built as well as those that need to be upgraded. He reminded that road network will facilitate trade among districts and between Rwanda and its neighboring countries. The president said that the government of Rwanda is happy about the partnership in the East African Community in fast tracking infrastructure development that will spur trade growth in the region.
President Kagame said that the government is proud in the increase of the number of students each year. He noted that the number of children who have joined nursery and primary schools has increased by 7% and those that joined secondary education have increased by 6% compared to last year. At university level, the number of student has passed from 76,629 last year to 84,448 this year. It means an increase of 10 % compared to 2012.
The president said that this year the government has increased its budget towards Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) from RWF 10.5 to RWF 30.5 billion. The numbers of youth that join those schools have increased to 15% in secondary schools. He also mentioned that public universities have been united into one university “University of Rwanda”.
The reason behind this move is to strengthen the capacity of the University of Rwanda to deliver high quality education and to join forces where necessary. The efficient use of resources allocated to the University of Rwanda for a common purpose by all institutions affiliated to it is another reason behind this move according to President Kagame. He promised that the government will keep investing in education because it is one of the building blocks that will help Rwanda to achieve its development goals enshrined in Vision 2020.
President Kagame said that the government is proud of the increase in the number of hospitals and health centers as well as healthcare personnel. He gave an example of newly built hospitals in Ruhango, Kinihira and Bushenge that have already started their operations. He also mentioned Health centers of Kanyinya, Mageragere and Remera that have started to offer healthcare services to citizens that live in their neighborhood.
The president noted that Rwanda has signed a 7 year agreement with top American universities that will train healthcare personnel. He said that in this program the country has sent 50 students to study outside of the country and 150 that are being trained locally. Though the number is still low, the president promised that the government will keep on increasing the amount of qualified healthcare personnel to meet the needs.
The president said that the number of women that deliver at hospital stands at 86%. The number of women and children that die at birth keep on decreasing. Children who are vaccinated stand at 95% rate and they are immunized against 12 diseases. He pointed out that the numbers of people that are victims by malaria have decrease to 5% and the government aim is that no Rwandan should be a victim of Malaria.
When it comes to health insurance, the president said that statistics show that Rwanda stands at 81 % and the aim is that every Rwandan should be able to get treatment easily. “We want to strengthen insurance scheme so that it can reach every Rwandan”, noted the president.
Justice and good governance
President Kagame said that Rwanda’s justice system keeps on improving the reason why other countries have trusted its justice system by sending Rwandans to face justice in the country. “This year the European court of human rights agreed that the Rwandan justice system fulfill international standards”, pointed out the president.
The president noted that good governance was enforced with the election of the new parliamentarians. He was proud to mention that elections were conducted peacefully and that they have become a habit in Rwanda. He noted that the number of women that were elected shows that they continue to play a big role in the governance of the country.
He mentioned an important role played by youth in Rwanda’s leadership. He also advised that good service should be a must especially at lower level because the population deserves a good service. He emphasized that a lot still need to be done to offer an excellent service.
Agaciro ( Dignity) and Ndumunyarwanda (I am Rwandan)
President Kagame said that he cannot finish the state of union without mentioning two things. “First we are part of regional and international organizations. Secondly in order for us to help these organizations and get benefit from them we need to keep giving us dignity”, underlined the president.
“The program of Ndumunyarwanda that we started is aimed at giving us more dignity. “Giving yourself dignity and give it to other”. “We have to build Ubunyarwanda ( Rwandanhood ) because it is worth for us to achieve our development”.
He noted that next year Rwanda will commemorate 20 years after the 1994 genocide and its liberation . “We have to give both events the value they deserve”.
He concluded the state of union by wishing a happy new year 2014 to all Rwandans and its friends.
“May it be a year of increase to all of you”, concluded President Paul Kagame.