Rwanda: Why the focus is on the youth

By Nasra Bishumba

Rwanda has recorded significant progress in rebuilding and rehabilitating its citizens twenty-five years after the Genocide against Tutsi.

However, majority of the citizens still suffer the consequences of the atrocities.

Ahead of the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, The New Times’ Nasra Bishumba sat with the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean Damascène Bizimana, who reflected on the country’s 25 year journey towards recovery and priorities for the future.

Excerpts

Rwandans will this year mark 25 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi. Can you paint a picture of what the days leading up to the D-day; April 7 will look like in terms of what is lined up?

The preparation for the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi is ongoing and in fact some of the activities have already started. Most of our activities are focusing on the youth, especially with regard to teaching them about history.

For instance, we have an exercise where we pick 500 youths from each province and the City of Kigali starting with January and this programme will end March. We are targeting 2,500 youths.

That activity, which we call “Youth, Know History”, involves the youths visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi and the Museum for the Campaign to fight against Genocide at Parliament.

After that, they are joined by experts who they ask questions regarding the country’s history, genocide and genocide ideology.

This helps them to go back in their homes, school and places of work with answers that they can share with their peers. What we are aiming for is that by the time of commemoration, we need these children, the youth to know what genocide is and how the country has rebuilt itself in the last 25 years.

We also provide public dialogues in secondary schools and universities and we look into fighting genocide, genocide ideology, and genocide denial plus the role of the youth in supporting national development.

We are also hoping that the 25th commemoration period is an opportunity to educate the world about our history on the international level, talking about the genocide and see how the world can draw lessons from our experience.

We will have an international conference in Kigali from April 4 to 5th and it will bring together about 500 experts, politicians, international organisations from all over the world.

We will also call on the youth to visit ‘Incike’ who are based in Huye, Nyanza and Bugesera districts to fetch from their well of experience on the values of heroism, patriotism, defending the country’s honour and resilience.

There will also be an activity to clean up memorial sites all over the country and that activity will end on March 30. They will be cleaned up by the youth who will even then be talked to about history at that time.

This year, there has been some changes regarding what is usually done in the commemoration week. Could you shed some light on the changes and what motivated them?

In the last two years, we have reduced the number of dialogues to three between April 7-13. This year, we are marking 25 years since the Genocide. That means that the grief has reduced and the country has been rebuilt.

That is the reason we always insist on “Remember, Unite, Renew” because when you are rebuilding, it helps people to continue working hard for the families, for tourists to continue flocking in and for the country to continue to get a source of taxes.

It’s for that reason that we have now reduced the dialogues to two; with one running on April 7 from 9am to 12pm. Then we will have another one that may be on April 10 in all villages and this will end what used to happen in the past, where business would come to a standstill.

If for example you have a company, you can decide to send a number of your staff there and the rest can continue working.

While government institutions, ministries and private sector used to pick a day out of the 100 days of commemoration to hold their dialogue, this year, they will pick one day out of the seven days running from April 7 to April 13 to do that.

The main focus is on this week and then people can work but also visit survivors and memorial sites at their own pace.

What is being done to incorporate Genocide studies as part of education programmes in Rwanda and beyond? There appears to be studies that only focus on previousgenocides. How can we add the 1994 Genocide against The Tutsi to modern day curriculum?

A lot has been done.Led by the Ministry of Education, stakeholders like CNLG, Aegis Trust a lot has been done but, most importantly, we were able to come up with a specific teaching guide which will give teachers the direction they need to start imparting this history lesson. We will start with secondary schools because we felt that children in primary schools are too young to grasp genocide related lessons.

The second most important step is to train teachers to be confident to teach about the genocide. There are teachers who fear delivering these lessons because their parents committed genocide crimes and they teach in the same districts where these crimes were committed. It is not easy to mention your family’s crimes.

Then we have teachers who are Genocide survivors who are still hurting deeply and find it difficult to teach this particular lesson. However, as years come and go, these educational guides are being used in universities and teacher training colleges and since they are young and were not involved in the genocide, it is becoming easier.

In the past, the teachers were directly connected to the history and this used to cause fear and it gives us hope now than ever before.

In the past, your office has said that genocide ideology was their biggest challenge. Where does the country stand right now and what has your office been doing to continue your mission to change mindsets? What are the current trends of Genocide denial and what do they show us?

We conduct research about genocide ideology every five years because it is within a number of years that you can quantify something. The last research was conducted in 2015 and it indicated that genocide ideology had reduced by 87.3 per cent and that is really a big per centage.

In another two years, we will conduct another research to determine where we stand. What is evident is that it has significantly reduced and other indicators that we usually rely on like how many court cases are filed per year have reduced.

One other highlight is that the genocide law drafted in 2013 regarding genocide ideology and other related crimes was amended and it made some articles that had loopholes clearer.

For example, there was an article that said that genocide ideology could be prosecuted only if it happened in public. This meant that if for instance someone sent a survivor insulting, hurtful and pain inflicting messages using a mobile phone, they would get away with it.

Right now, whether you use an SMS, WhatsApp or even email to send such messages are punished by a minimum of five years.

Then there was sensitisation done by different stakeholders like grassroots authorities, Ministries of local government and education, National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and CNLG all work together to conduct dialogues with the masses and over time, this has helped.

Good governance has also contributed to the significant reduction of genocide ideology. If the masses rights are being respected, they are getting what to eat, getting access to health facilities and those who want to study can study, and then you will have a population who are going to fight anyone whose ideology is not constructive.

Last year, you said that you were struggling with the lack of preservation experts to help you preserve remains of the Genocide victims. How far have you gone in terms of getting for the right skills to help with this?

Projects regarding preservation ofmemorial sites rarely get funding as compared to others like, for example, agriculture. This could be because donors have their own priorities but, for us, it’s important because the foundation of every country is its history and culture.

We applaud the Government for the effort that it puts in ensuring that memorial sites are taken care of. We have a Memorandum of Understanding with Germany’s Hannover and Hamburg universities who have experts, especially in the area of preserving bodies.

We started off with Murambi Memorial Site where they are using their expertise to gauge how much water and oils, among others, are involved to determine which remains will be preserved for a long time. On April 21, these experts will present the findings of their research and what we are required to do.

The German experts are also equipping Rwandans in the University of Rwanda’s Medical Faculty and others from the National Forensic Laboratory with the skills required to preserve the victims’ remains, clothes and others.

We also have a Memorandum of Understanding with the America’s University of Pennsylvania who send experts here and are currently working with Ntarama Genocide Memorial where they have spent two years training CNLG staff on how to preserve victims’ clothes. Preserving clothes also requires a lot and most of what is required is not available locally.

For instance, the chemicals used must be purchases from Thailand or Europe. They will also present the findings of their project in May. It is then that we will know what can be preserved and what must be buried.

The issue of trauma is still a challenge. What in particular is being done to deal with this issue, especially among the youth, some who were not even here during the Genocide?

A studyconducted by CNLG and the Ministry of Health which was released in December last year indicates that all Rwandans have a degree of trauma but those who survived the Genocide are suffering more.

There are also people who committed genocide who are struggling with trauma because they never expected to be held accountable for their actions. There are those who served their sentences and are genuinely remorseful because they have to live with the knowledge of their actions and it has caused them trauma.

Their children also face trauma because they have to deal with the fact that one or both their parents is in jail for committing such heinous crimes and also face the people whose families were slaughtered by them.

The survivors have obvious reasons why they are traumatised. They were hunted down, their families were killed, they have to live with both physical and emotional pain so it is understandable that during the commemoration period, trauma cases shoot up.

The issue of poverty also contributes to trauma. That is why working with other organisations, we strive to bring them together in cooperatives where they can have income generating activities but also find solace in discussing their issues with people with the same background because loneliness can also cause trauma.

We are working with Ibuka this year to conduct a survey to find out how much of the vast pieces of land owned by genocide survivors can be used productively so that they can benefit the owners.

The issue of children born out of rape continues to be a controversial one. Their parents continue to raise a complaint of those these children who are not being considered as bonafide beneficiaries of the Fund for Support to Genocide Survivors. Is there something you can say about that?

The first and most important thing people need to understand is that FARG helps Genocide survivors. This means that women who were raped during the Genocide are supported fully but let it be clear that the children that they gave birth to are not survivors because they were not here during the Genocide.

However, people need to know that these particular young adults are being supported through other means, especially at the grassroots level.

The ministries of Justice and Local Government, CNLG and FARG discussed this issue and it was decided that first, their number must be established.

What is really important is that the parents and children come to terms with what happened. There are those still in denial because some women who were raped and impregnated have failed to come to terms with what happened.

Some of these survivors have not told their children the truth of how they were conceived only for them to find out on their own, and again, bring about the issue of trauma. Talking to them about the value of being open about what happens is a continuous process.

Rwanda has slightly over 200 memorial sites. These have proved to be a challenge to maintain them, what is being done to address this?

A lothas been done.What we had before was one article in the 2008 law that talked about graveyards and memorial sites. However, in 2016, the law regulating memorial sites was enacted.

The law gave CNLG the mandate to care for the national memorial sites and the rest were left in the hands of districts. We have other memorial sites outside the country; three in Uganda and two in Tanzania.

They are a responsibility of the foreign affairs ministry. The fact changed how these sites were being cared for because they apportioned direct responsibility which was not the case before. Today, there is a budget for memorial site maintenance and that was not the case before.

On the other hand, we are waiting for a ministerial decree that details how some of the memorial sites, most which share a history can be combined for better maintenance.

Some of the sites are in complicated locations or in small places where even commemoration events cannot take place. However, from the area where they will be moved from, we will leave a monument talking about the history of that place can never be forgotten.

Over 900 arrest warrants have been issued for Genocide fugitives; however, only 23 have been enforced. Why is that and what do you have to say to the international community?

There are different reasons. First of all, it’s expensive. It requires them to send teams of people to Rwanda to conduct investigations and, in the end, they choose not to pursue it.

Then, you have cases of people who committed genocide but completly changed their identity, so tracking them down has been difficult.

Then there are countries that are not so keen on doing anything about these perpetrators at all. What was done was to continously call on international organisations to fight impunity, to pursue the suspects and to enact laws to fight and punish genocide.

So far, the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council, the African Union, the European Union have all adopted these laws. What remains now is to push them to deliver.

Most countries, especially in Europe, did not have laws to punish genocide crimes committed by a foreigner on foreign territory. However, we also encourage them to extradite the suspects if they can’t try them.

What message do you have for Rwandans and the rest of the world during this commemoration period?

Remembering what happened is deeply painful and while we must remember our loved ones, I call upon everyone to remain strong, to look at the bigger picture and not to allow the pain to consume our lives. It is important for us to come together to build a united country because this nation belongs to all of us.

The second message I have is for adults who continue to poison children’s minds. When we visit schools to talk to these youngsters, they ask us many questions, some which are laced with hatred, segregation and genocide ideology.

There are things that a 10-year-old cannot know unless someone has told them. I am calling on adults who are imparting this kind of damage in our children to stop this because hatred has never bore good fruits. What these children need to know is love, peace and justice.

Source The New Times

Youth sensitized on fighting cancer Stigma in Rwanda

Dr Rubagumya (centre) explains to the audience, as cancer survivor Karen Bugingo (right) looks on. Emmanuel Kwizera.

By Hudson Kuteesa

There is a lot of stigma surrounding cancer patients both during the treatment process and survivorship, a situation that needs more sensitisation among people, according to experts and survivors.

The survivors and experts were speaking on Friday at the Kigali innovation village in an event organised by Rwanda Children’s Cancer Relief, a non-profit organization focusing on raising awareness of childhood cancers.

In 2018, according to world health organisation, Rwanda had 10,704 new cases of cancer, with cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers being the most rampant.

Although statistics about cancer stigma are not available, Dr. FideleRubagumya, a Clinical Oncologist at the Rwanda Military Hospital, said many people are ignorant about cancers, and this contributes to stigmatization of patients.

Rubagumya said he has encountered patients that were facing stigma during his practice as a doctor. Due to ignorance about cancer, he saw some lose partners; while others were stigmatized by relatives, among other things.

He shared a story of a young woman, a cancer patient, who refused to have surgery on her breast because she feared that her husband would leave her.

“I explained to her that we were going to give her chemotherapy, after which we would carry out a surgery to remove the tumour. She took the chemo, but refused the surgery because she feared that her husband would go,” he said.

“Because the chemo had made the tumour shrink, she thought she was cured. She went home. After four months, she came back with a huge mass. By this time, I heard that the husband had already left her,” he added.

According to Rubagumya, cancer patients go through such stigma. In some cases, some get isolated due to the ignorant belief that the disease is contagious.

Yet, he said that stigma can even spread more during survivorship, where for instance, spouses separate because one of them discovers that another is a cancer survivor.

Karen Bugingo, a cancer survivor, and author of “My name is Life” said that many people don’t understand survivorship, and they tend to ask a number of questions concerning their normality,

“Some people ask me, ‘Are you really cancer free?’” she said.

“People don’t understand when I tell them that I don’t take any medicine now, I don’t need any pill before going to bed,” she said.

Bugingo was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in 2012. Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body.

Despite being at stage four (the last stage of cancer) she was able to heal and seven years later, she is sensitizing people about cancer.

She said that the best way to recover from cancer is having hope that you will be well. For her, you need to be mentally strong, and not lose hope as you fight for your life,

“People talk many things about cancer. They say its incurable, and if you have it you are going to die. However, I am a living testimony that someone can be free from cancer. I am a survivor, and if survivors are there, the cure is there” she said.

Bugingo added that believing in God was very important during and after her sickness. She said it helped her to keep hope during the sickness, and she says she developed a good relationship with God even after recovering.

DeodatusRubayita, one of the youth who attended the event admitted to knowing little about how to behave around a friend or a family member suffering from cancer.

Bugingo said the best way to act when you are around a cancer patient is not to treat them as a fragile people, but rather as just normal, as if nothing has changed,

“They also need to have that sense of normality,” she said.

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Source The New Times

Rwanda: Youth in Agriculture Appeal for Incubation Hub

By Marie Grace Munezero

Youth in the agriculture sector are appealing for an incubation hub to help train, develop and support young people to set up their own businesses in that field.

They believe that the incubation hub would decrease post-harvest losses by bringing innovation for food security and adding value to traditional crops to turn them into into cash crops.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Regis Umugiraneza, the Director of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), said that value addition for crops is needed to eliminate post-harvest losses that farmers experience.

But it requires other additional knowledge that the youth don’t have.

A group of youth during a study tour at Mulindi agri-show. Sam Ngendahimana.

“We believe that an incubation hub can help. Young Rwandans cannot afford some equipment at the moment, or experts to help with business ideas. An incubation centre can have multipurpose equipment for each sub-cluster; food, beverages, cosmetics and input cluster,” he explained.

He added that an incubation centre would be helpful for both farmers and youth in agribusiness, especially for beginners.

“An incubation hub will be a place to turn ideas into action. Beginners will gain products, marketing, packaging and even standards for their harvest. And, above that, they will have bank credibility as they will have a clear plan and will be ready to start their own businesses,” he added.

He urged other youth who have agricultural business ideas to team up and start with what they have.

“Government wants to help us but it is not easy to help individuals, putting us together will ease government’s work. And also remember to start around you, see what harvest is experiencing losses and start with it,” he urged.

Ange Gahima, one of young agribusiness entrepreneurs, said that having an incubation hub is not very difficult as they can start with making Nyarutarama Incubation Centre more operational.

“I am wondering why that incubation centre is not operational. It has many machines we need but is closed. I think we can start with that,” she said.

She added that because of lack of an incubation centre young people who have many good ideas find their hands bound due to lack of basic materials and expertise.

“There are many people countrywide with nice ideas, some of them did related courses but they have nothing to do or do what they do not like because of lack of that incubation centre which can open doors for them,” she added.

Telesphore Mugwiza, the Director in charge of industry and entrepreneurship development at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said setting up an incubation centre is very expensive and not easy, but they are helping the youth with ideas through various ways.

“Agri-processing machines are very expensive and we have many sub-clusters, setting an incubation centre is not that easy. However, we help people in agribusiness, beginners included. We give them technical support, study tours and help them to improve what they do. Whoever has an idea is welcome, we will give them any help they need,” he said.

Source The New Times

Rwanda: Young Executives Call for More Business Friendly Policies

By Collins Mwai

The young business community in Rwanda has decried persistence of specific challenges such as stringent tax regimes, access to capital, lack of access to skills as well as lack of friendly policies.

Speaking at a roundtable convened by the Rwanda Development Board, young business executives called for a review of policies to take into account concerns of local operators.

For instance a section of emerging enterprises there is not enough awareness on tax policies and obligations by a large section of firms which often leads them to incur penalties.

Mbabazi said the forum is another effort to ensure that youths are provided with the right environment for growth. /Emmanuel Kwizera.

Other say that the tax regime does not take into account priority sectors that the government is trying to attract the youth to venture into.

For instance, Water Access Rwanda Chief Executive Christelle Kwizera questioned why water infrastructure was not part of the sectors eligible for 15 per cent Corporate Income Tax despite being a priority sector.

Further concerns were on the efficiency of Value Added Tax refunds system which has been said to hold up capital for firms.

Rwanda Revenue Authority owes about Rwf 30 billion to different members of the business community in value added tax refunds.

Other cited the ununiformed manner of implementation of tax policies largely owing to lack of understanding by RRA professionals.

Young investors also said that the ecosystem could use a review of export promotion efforts and initiatives which they said are not effective at the moment.

Gloria Kamanzi, the founder of Glo Creations, which is involved in fabrics, said that to match the national ambitions for exports, there is need to establish export facilitation support mechanism.

This, she said, would enable emerging entrepreneurs make the most of trade windows such as Alibaba to ensure increased access to global markets for local products.

Regis Umugiraneza’s the first Vice Chairman of the Private Sector Federation Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs also called for an intervention in entry requirements for sectors.

For instance, acquiring a tourism operation license, he said, requires as much as $1200, which is out of reach for a large number of start-ups and firms.

Other concerns include the absence of coaching and mentoring platforms for emerging players in the business community.

In regards to accessing capital for their ventures, Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa said that is important to look beyond banks as the sole source of revenue as most have expensive loans. Noting that this was a consequence of risk factors and cost of banks’ capital, Rwangombwa said that as the local private sector capacity develops, there is going to be a growing interest by venture capitalists.

RDB Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi, said that there are multiple opportunities for emerging through international Electronic-Trade Platforms like Alibaba which now has demand for products such as Avocados, pineapples, beef and chilli among other products.

She expressed their readiness to take in concerns by the youthful business community to improve conditions.

The youthful business community remains of significance to achieve targets such as job creation, GDP growth, reduction of imports and increase of exports.

RDB Chief Operating Officer Guy Baron said that the young business community has a role in the ambitions through ways such as increasing private investment to about 22 per cent to GDP from the current 13 per cent, creation of about 1.5 million jobs by 2020 among others.

The Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, said that to achieve the higher middle income economy status, the economy needs a wide range of entrepreneurs, including the youth.

“For Rwanda to develop into a higher middle income economy as set out in Vision 2050, we need a robust private sector which need not only be composed of big investors but also young entrepreneurs who can tap into the many available opportunities. Both locally and regionally, there are many opportunities to tap into, especially in agriculture, manufacturing and in the service industry,” said.

Source The New Times

Rwanda: Apprenticeship programme has become a lifeline for vulnerable youth


By Régis Umurengezi


The apprentices are currently undertaking a year-long training in food processing, fashion, as well as beauty, which involves hairdressing, manicure and pedicure.

Beatrice Uwimana’s dreams were all but shattered after dropping out of school while in senior one after she was defiled and impregnated at the age of 17.

Her family and the man responsible for her pregnancy abandoned her as she grappled with early pregnancy.

However, Uwimana—now 19 years old—recently found something that has put a smile back on her face.

The resident of Gataraga Sector, Musanze District has been selected as one of this year’s 146 apprentices of Workplace Learning Support Programme, best known as ‘Igira ku Murimo’.

Through the programme, Uwimana has been enrolled back in school to undertake a year-long training course in food processing at Busogo Technical School (ESTB).

The programme was initiated by the Government in 2015. The five-year pilot phase (2017-2021) is currently being implemented jointly by the Ministry of Public Service and Labour and the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

The apprentices are from 13 districts and are currently undertaking a year-long training in three occupations; food processing (bakery, fruits and milk processing), fashion (tailoring and leather work) as well as beauty, which involves hairdressing, manicure and pedicure.

The acting director general for labour and employment at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, Faustin Mwambari, said the programme will empower the youth with the necessary skills to deal with the challenges they face.

“This is a governmental policy that seeks to bridge the knowledge gap from schools with the skills required at the workplace, we look forward to sensitising employers to give a chance to the youth to utilise knowledge from school at their respective workplaces,” said Mwambari.

The programme, which blends theory with practical skills, targets youth with special problems notably the ones from households under the first and second category of social stratification (Ubudehe), teen mothers and youth living with different forms of disabilities.

While visiting the students, who are currently interning at Mukamira milk processing plant in Nyabihu District, Mwambari said that the Workplace Learning Support Programme will bridge the skills gap, which is critically needed to drive Rwanda’s development ambitions.

“It is in the interest of government to empower people with the knowledge and skills required by the labour market,” he added.

High expectations

The beneficiaries have expressed optimism in their future, with some of them keen to start their own businesses.

“My plan is to set up a bakery. With the kind of knowledge we are getting from class and workplace, we are set to create our own jobs,” Uwimana said.

Jean de la Paix Shyirambere, an albino interning at beverage making firm, Umuhuza’s Enterprise, echoed Uwimana sentiment stressing that; “Due to the practical knowledge I acquired, I will never write a job application letter. I have to be my own boss and create jobs for others,”

An apprentice from Workplace Learning Support Programme receives a monthly stipend of Rwf22, 000 and will graduate with certificates upon completion of the one-year training programme.

According to officials, the Government is also weighing various support options for the students, including giving them capital to start their own businesses.

Over the next four years, 375 youths including of 153 girls and 45 youths living with disabilities, will be trained.

Source The New Times

Rwandan youth have potential to shine but need to rise to the occasion

By The New Times

The potential is there but young people need to stand up to the plate and make the most of these opportunities.

Rwandan youth have over the years been afforded many life-changing opportunities, ranging from education and entrepreneurship to business and sporting and entertainment areas.

Indeed few of them have grabbed some of these opportunities with both hands and have been able to change their lives and impact their communities.

But many have remained in their comfort zones and failed to take advantage of the various initiatives across the different sectors.

One such latest opportunity has come in the form of basketball. United States’ National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) have just announced a plan to launch a professional basketball league for Africa and Rwanda is one of the countries that will be participating.

The Basketball Africa League, slated to get underway in January 2020, will comprise of 12 teams drawn from several countries including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Rwanda.

The development presents a great opportunity to young Rwandans seeing as this country has proven that it has untapped potential in the sport.

In addition to the growing competitiveness of country’s elite basketball league, many youngsters have continuously expressed interest in the sport, with some impressing under the Giants of Africa basketball programme launched in Rwanda in partnership with basketball legend Masai Ujiri and NBA’s Toronto Raptors.

Young Rwandans benefiting from such initiatives should take these opportunities seriously by consistently investing their energy, talent, passion and time if they are to succeed.

Above all, they need to be patient and disciplined.

The potential is there but young people need to stand up to the plate and make the most of these opportunities.

Source The New Times

Rwandese Youths should utilise opportunities in tourism conference sector

By James Karuhanga

Aimable Rumongi, the chairperson of the Association of Professional Conference Organisers (RAPCO), was part of a round table aimed at shedding light on the progress of conference tourism sector early this week.

During the meeting at the Kigali Cultural Village, he talked to Sunday Times’James Karuhangaand shed light on what his organisation does and why the youth need a mindset change when it comes to tapping opportunities in the conference tourism sector.

Rwanda Convention Bureau officials disclosed that conference tourism sector registered $52 million in 2018/2019. You questioned that. Why??

Those are official figures they capture directly from the money that participants or visitors spent in hotels. But these participants who come here do spend in restaurants, in bars, in excursions like visiting the gorillas and many other things such as shopping. Some of those figures aren’t captured.

And they also spend on service providers such as interpreters, journalists, and others. And, as they [RCB] said, they are in the course of collecting and computing the exact figures.

Could we then, most likely, see this figure double if all data is properly computed?

No; I wouldn’t say that. Not probably double, but slightly more than that $52 million.

What about your association. What exactly do you do?

In RAPCO, we register and vet professional conference organisers. You don’t just wake up and come and register a company and off you start. We have to ensure that you fulfill some standards; including that you have an office with qualified staff, having organized at least five international conferences.

We have categories of 50 delegates, 100 delegates, 500 delegates, and 1,000 delegates. Our role is also to ensure that our members get trained so that they know how to bid for international conferences, know how to organize an event, and we help them to register. We help ensure that we abide by international standards. We would like our event managers to also go and pitch businesses in other countries.

How is that?

That is, they go and work in Uganda, Kenya, Burkina Faso and elsewhere. It is doable.

Let’s talk more about the requisite standards and how a startup can get there, Are the requirements not too stringent?

That’s why we, for example, we encourage them to come into RAPCO so that the smaller meetings of 50 participants or 20 participants can be given to new comers so they acquire that experience.

You at some point noted that other countries are not sleeping as regards improving their conference tourism, meaning we need to up our game. What can be done?

Yes, meaning that we need to further improve what we already have. For example, I talked about the interpreting business which is big business and a very important component in conference tourism.

When you see visitors come, go to their hotels, get good food and evening entertainment but the most important function of a delegate in a conference is what they do in a conference hall.

They come to a conference hall where technical aspects are their business, and the communication aspect is very important. Therefore, we need to train more interpreters and more translators so that we don’t have to import them from outside.

What else do you need to work on as regards the bigger picture of your association?

What needs to be done is work with other event organizers from outside Rwanda so that we can also go and bring bigger conferences to Rwanda.

The government shouldn’t be the only one to go and pitch for big meetings to Rwanda. This is a big role we have to play as RAPCO.

We encourage our members to go and bring meetings to Rwanda because there are some meetings that government is not involved in. The government cannot be everywhere.

You also talked at length about the country’s youth and what you, apparently, consider as them missing out on existing opportunities in this vibrant sector. What is your message for the country’s youth?

The tourism conference sector is one of the biggest employers the world over. Wherever you go, in many hotels now they are putting up new facilities for conferences to attract conference participants. They have their usual tourists but they have realized that tourism conferences attract big money.

Now, the youth in Rwanda need to be empowered in terms of creativity. As I already mentioned, here [Kigali Cultural Village], you can walk through but not find any Rwanda made sandals. But you find Kenyan made and Ugandan sandals.

We have to tell our youths that there is a big opportunity in the tourism conference sector. When you go to hotels, do you know which fruits get finished early?

The paw paws, for example. Growing paw paws is the easiest thing you can do in Rwanda. I grow paw paws too, in Muhazi. Another thing, when we have all these big conferences with VIPs, the people who do the servicing such as top bar tenders; we don’t have them. Same applies to chefs in hotels.

How many professional Rwandan chefs do we have? People say they can’t go and train to be cooks. The mindset is wrong. A chef in Serena hotel earns more than the General Manager there. Cooking for these important guests is a rare and special skill.

So you think Rwandan youth need to change their mindset on things employment?

Yes. Mindset is the issue here. It is serious. Government is already doing something; teaching them.

How about you in the private sector? What do you need to do to encourage or inspire the youth?

We shall keep talking to them. And some of them are already active. At one of the stands here they are doing essential oils and that is great. But again, we need to invest in packaging material.

One of the biggest challenges in Rwanda is packaging of bread, honey and other things. And then there is entertainment. Let’s talk about entertainment. How many night clubs of repute do we have in Kigali? It’s probably one or two.

Imagine if someone put up another good night club. This is another opportunity, and our youth need to think about these things. And then there is fashion. There is so much.

And you think the youth should not use government regulations as obstacles?

No, no! They shouldn’t see regulations as restrictions. No. If the government can allow Cobra, do you think it is because Cobra [Eugene Habimana, a.k.a. Cobra] has a monopoly? No. He is a good businessman. He sees the need. He sees an opportunity. And he goes ahead and opens a club.

Source The New Times

How a group of youth are using art to promote peace in Rwanda

By Sharon Kantengwa

Imfura Arts for Peace is an arts organisation that started in 2018, for aspiring peace and social responsibility in community for the youth.

It was founded by a group of youths, led by 21-year-old poet and author, Fred Mfuranzima, while in high school. It has since grown to include other youths from different backgrounds.

At school many knew me as an author and poet and so many young people came to me and requested to help them develop their talents. I decided to bring them together and we discussed how we can work together.

This is how we started a group, affiliated to Never Again, Rwanda that helped us to understand the critical thinking skills and to create a space where we can meet and discuss about our community issues that matter to us.

“I decided to create a group that can perform different kinds of art and in the process inspire others that have hardships in creating their art. The group has been on the rise for being responsible leaders and active citizens, which is needed for our post- Genocide society. Youth born in different family backgrounds can work together to develop and nurture their talents for change,” he says.

The over 80 youths, including scholars that are part of the organisation, are involved in kinds of art including poetry, book writing, others photography, paintings, fashion.

Aamani Mugiraneza, a member of Imfura Art for Peace, believes that working together as a group enables them to support each other with their talents as they all get to share their own skills before Allen Umulisa chips in;

“In our Rwandan society families think of art as a waste of time. But when you work together as a group, it shows them that you are doing something of benefit to the society.”

Claire Uwihozo, another member that shares her fashion design skills, says they chose art as a way to attract the youth because they like entertainment which they use to learn about peace.

“We are trying to give the youth a platform to express their ideas and say something that would change our country and sometimes it’s hard to air your voice alone but as a group when you bring your ideas in a creative way, it feels less intimidating and you get to have a bigger audience,” adds Clemence Umutoni.

Today, February 16, they will be presenting their projects for 2019, titled “ Arts and the path to resilience: dealing with trans-generations trauma and repository of our society’s memories” at the Innovation Village in Kacyiru.

“We will use our different projects of fashion, poetry, music, literature, painting and visual arts which will work on tracking our society’s history and inspire the youth who have faced trauma. We are going to put them in the books, recorded poems, paintings, photography and make some exhibitions and events where those artists will get time to perform and tell their own stories. We will also create a space where the youths will come to understand our history to be able to tell the stories in the future,”

“We want to spread our messages of peace as a way of building our country and also ourselves. When you have a message through art, when you pass it on, it reaches many people, Peline Mudahungwa, another member, adds.

Source The New Times

Rwanda Youth Volunteers In Community Policing Congress


By Staff Writer


At least 304 youngsters, on Monday, joined the Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP) in Gakenke District.

The new members are from the three sectors of Cyabingo (80), Busengo (164) and Rusasa (60).

The District Police Commander for Gakenke, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Viateur Ntiyamira, while welcoming the new community policing members in Cyabingo Sector, thanked them for recommitting to the “good cause” of preventing crimes and improving the wellbeing of the people.

He, however, reminded them that the new responsibilities take into account the discipline, setting an example and sacrifice.

“You have committed yourselves to ensuring crime-free communities but also to support community development activities; it’s not just being a member of youth volunteers… it’s about influencing change, reporting drug dealers, being the voice against corruption and for the women and girls whose rights are being violated,” CIP Ntiyamira told the youth.

The youth group was created in 2013 to supplement the Rwanda National Police (RNP) community policing ideology through community awareness against crimes and supporting the country’s human security activities through Umuganda, environmental protection and promoting healthy living, among others.

The organization currently has over 270, 000 members across the country. The new members brought the number of youth volunteers to 6, 929 in Gakenke District alone.


Source taarifa


Rwanda: Kagame calls for more inclusion of youth in governance matters


By Collins Mwai


President Paul Kagame has said that good governance has a role and responsibility to ensure that young Africans have a real stake in a bright future on their continent.

Kagame was speaking in Dubai, United Arab Emirates while delivering a key note address at the seventh World Government Summit.

The annual summit is dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.

The head of state said that governance must primarily focus on equipping the youth with the requisite skills to compete and succeed globally.

“We want young Rwandans and their peers across Africa to remain connected to their countries and each other. We have a responsibility to ensure that young Africans have a real stake in a bright future on their own continent. It is our responsibility to equip them with the skills to compete and succeed globally. This should be our primary focus and it is doable,” he said.

The President said that this was among the reasons Africa was keen on participatory integration to have greater economic relevance.

Participating in bigger markets is vital for our economic future. By 2050, Africa’s population will be two and a half billion, larger than any other continent. We will only realise our full promise by joining together our historically fragmented markets and making it easier for people, goods and services to move across our continent,” Kagame said.

This, he said, was part of the reasons why the African Union had adopted the African Continental Free Trade Area – which is due to enter into force later this year as well as the Protocol on the Free Movement of People and agreed a Single African Air Transport Market.

Sharing Rwanda’s governance practices and experience, President Kagame said that good governance and accountability is central to everything as the country works to reverse a legacy of extreme corruption and division that nearly completely destroyed the country.

“Good governance and accountability is central to everything we do. In Rwanda’s case, we are working to reverse a legacy of extreme corruption and division in our society that nearly completely destroyed our country,” the President said.

Among the guiding principles in the country is an understanding that leaders and institutions are in place to respond to the expectations of citizens. This he said is complemented by a focus on civic participation and trust ensuring that everyone is included in shaping the country’s future.

He also noted the importance of investment in human capital and other driving factors of prosperity.

“We have done our best to get the most out of the resources we do have and find creative ways to fill the gaps,” he said.

To lay the foundation and make progress, he noted that Rwanda has had to start transforming the basis of the economy from subsistence to knowledge in order to unleash creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Our strategy has been to get government out of the business of business and focus instead on creating a conducive enabling environment and a level playing field for private enterprise,” the head of state told the summit.

The summit looks at trends of governance, best practices, replicable models as well as role of governance aspects such as Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s gathering highlighted Rwanda as a guest country and will showcase Rwanda’s progress in the tourism and agriculture sector. The other two guest countries at this year’s Summit are Estonia and Costa Rica.

The annual global gathering hosts over 4000 participants and invites Heads of State and Government as well as international organisations’ representatives and experts from over 100 countries.

On the sidelines of the summit, President Kagame met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr.


Source The New Times