Opening remarks for the 23rd Session of the EIF Board Meeting 3rd November 2016, 9AM
Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre
One successful initiative that is not usually mentioned and that the EIF supported the Government of Rwanda with is the National Sector Working Groups. When the Government started thinking about how best to coordinate our interactions with development partners back in 2008, the EIF gave us crucial support to develop our institutional framework and come up with an arrangement that suited our needs. Today these Sector Working Groups are our main national donor coordination mechanisms, whereby development partners, government agencies, the private sector, civil society and all other relevant stakeholders meet twice a year – once to plan for the future and once to assess the past. We have 14 such groups today, one of which is the Private Sector Development and Youth Employment Sector Working group, chaired by MINEACOM, co-chaired by the AFDB and with comprising of more than 150 members. It is a vibrant group, characterised by proactive knowledge sharing and coordination and it has helped my ministry and our stakeholders stay up to date with what each other are doing to prevent duplication and join our efforts to promote investments, exports and industrial development and generate productive jobs.
As the EIF programme is starting to implement phase II (2016 – 2022) one of the main priorities of the EIF Board and of this meeting today, is to discuss and propose guidelines on how best to implement this phase II across EIF beneficiaries with the available resources. One of the things I have learnt is that with political will and not necessarily huge investments, there are initiatives that provide for quick-wins, and are impactful and meaningful. I can mention a few examples.
· At the Cyanika border we went from 16 opening hours to 24 opening hours and volumes doubled.
· The use of National IDs to move across Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. This has increased the flow of people across these countries for both professional and personal reasons. This measure also has a huge impact on border communities that are now allowed to cross the border for trade with their National IDs.
· The One Network Area allows for Rwandans to make calls to Kenya and Uganda, and viceversa at the rate of a local call. In a few short months, call volumes between these three countries increased more than 400%, allowing people to reach their loves ones and connect across borders. This only needed political will at highest levels, and to have the telecommunication companies on board.
In line with this idea of low investment initiatives, I was extremely pleased to hear you speak yesterday about e-commerce Mr. E.D., and to hear that EIF is prepared to support Rwanda as we seek to develop e-commerce in the country. E-commerce is known to level the playing field significantly by affording immediate access to the final consumer to SMEs and other firms who normally struggle to access markets. It is therefore a key policy area for the Government of Rwanda and something we will be pursue heavily in 2017. We have already established two key partnerships – one with GIZ who are supporting the development of our ICT4Trade Strategy, and who are also piloting their regional e-commerce project in Rwanda. Secondly, we have also partnered with TradeCom and ITC on the development of a specific e-commerce strategy, which we also expect to have in place and approved by Cabinet by early next year. However, we know we have huge challenges to overcome when it comes to e-commerce, especially on ICT skills and on logistics, and we would therefore highly appreciate all the support EIF can give us on this issue. I look forward to continuing to discuss this policy area with you in the future.
I look forward to continue advocating for the excellent partnership with the EIF who has successfully done its job as a catalytic mechanism. And I will certainly provide for that political support that you H.E. Mr Eloi LAOUROU requested for yesterday. I will stress the importance of the EIF programme to the donor community, and promote EIF activities.