Clarisse Iribagiza is at the fore-front of Rwanda’s booming tech scene

BY BOLA JOHNSON

Clarisse Iribagiza is another torch bearer for the new crop of trail blazing female tech entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Africa in general. She has also made it her agenda to inspire the next generation of techies. She has broken several barriers taking her company HeHe Limited to the very top of Rwanda’s information technology industry.

The mobile technology company has been successful enough to set Clarisse apart as a major voice in Rwanda’s fast emerging tech scene.

In 2015, African entrepreneurs making noticeable strides in the tech industry were invited to speak at the sixth annual Pakasa Forum organised by Vision Group. The event was organised as Vision Group’s effort to inspire Ugandan entrepreneurs by exposing them to stories of individuals with interesting success stories. The speakers’ stories would also provide actionable insights into mindset change, personal responsibility to success, and hard work, as it concerns entrepreneurial success. Attendees from within Uganda and East Africa were especially impressed and motivated by Clarisse Iribagiza’s story as she laid out her entrepreneurial journey.

Her early influences were her parents. Born to a teacher and an entrepreneur, she and her siblings were taught to pursue impactful and meaningful careers which prepared them largely for the future .

She started to develop the idea for her business during her days studying computer engineering at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology. The idea came after she participated in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) incubation programme. She was able put puzzle pieces together, relating what she was learning in school with its application in the real world.

Clarisse Iribagiza eventually setup HeHe Labs in 2010. Since its inception she has been able to work creatively with young, enthusiastic individuals to build mobile information systems and research significant mobile technologies for Africa. HeHe Limited now provides top notch solutions for businesses and organisations alike. Using information systems, the company has been to help these businesses reach their audiences faster and more conveniently.

Iribagiza says the company’s greatest success is not just building systems that have enhanced operational efficiency for a number of organisations across Africa but the creation of a research arm that trains and inspires hundreds of Rwandan youths to be major players in Africa’s technology revolution.

The company has also gone on to create programmes for about 80 Small and medium enterprises to enable them interact with their customers in different locations at the same time, all through HeHe.com. Additionally, Clarisse’ team built a platform where girls could send in questions about challenges they were facing and get almost instant responses.

Together with other budding young ICT entrepreneurs, she launched an initiative called iHills. The program provides mentoring as well finance to startups in and around Rwanda.

Italian think tank, LSDP (Lo Spazio Della Politica), named her among its top 100 global thinkers in 2014. She was nominated among Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes magazine in 2015. In 2013 she was also awarded the Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA) award by the Imbuto Foundation. The initiative was founded by Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, an initiative started to provide welfare and healthcare to vulnerable people in Rwanda.

Clarisse has expressed her desire to innovate and develop technologies that would impact Africa positively in the future. The focus of the research arm at HeHe for the future is to collaborate with young innovators across Africa to come up with inventions that fit perfectly into the African structure and can improve various parts of the spectrum.

Source CPAFRICA

Nigeria: Close to 50 trafficked girls rescued this year – RIB

By Jean de Dieu Nsabimana

With the increasing uptake of technology in the country, new crimes are emerging and the sophistication with which they are committed is on the rise.

Among these crimes is human trafficking.

Amidst this, Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) has called on parents to constantly engage their children about dangers of human trafficking and to not fall in traps that hundreds of youths have already fallen into.

According to Colonel Jeannot Ruhunga, the Secretary General of RIB, most of the victims are hoodwinked into believing that they are going for high-paying jobs and end up into slavery.

He was addressing residents of Rwamagana on Tuesday as part of the ongoing Justice Week.

This year alone, he said, the bureau counts 49 human trafficking victims, all girls, repatriated to Rwanda from different countries.

“Girls had been to different countries, especially in Gulf States such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia while others were from neighbouring countries, including Uganda,” he said.

The victims are duped into believing they would get lucrative jobs and end up in slavery instead, Ruhunga said.

This year, government has already helped 20 human trafficking victims back to the country from Kuwait, five from Saudi Arabia and “more than ten” from Uganda.

“All of them had left the country thinking that they would get good life. But these are lies they are fed by unscrupulous individuals who are part of the racket,” he said.

Many of the victims leave without the consent of their families and drop out of school and when they get to their destination, these middlemen confiscate their travel documents.

They then end up being sold into forced labour, slavery, or prostitution.

“In some cases, they are killed and dismembered and organs such as kidneys, liver, heart, and so on are removed,” he said.

He blamed the increase in the vice to technology where it has become easy to pick conversation with a complete stranger through social media platforms.

“One person sits here and communicates with somebody in China, who sends them fake pictures, promises them miracles, send them ticket, the girl or boy jumps at what they believe is an opportunity,” he said.

According to Ruhunga, the majority of public have not been sensitised about the vice but with partner institutions, they will step up the sensitisation.

Major actions have already been taken, he said, including increasing vigilance by border security personnel.

“Most of them are returned home after being stopped at the airport before they depart, because they have failed to give necessary explanations,” Ruhunga declared.

“She or he says ‘I am going to Cameroon,’ who do you know there?’Nobody,’ they say. Where exactly are you heading? They do not know. And then they eventually show you a number, and they say, ‘this person is my friend’. Where do you know them? ‘We talk often’, have you seen them? The answer is in most cases no,” he narrates.

In such case, the person is returned right away.

Then these people are linked with those that returned to educate them on the dangers of such journeys.

“They inform them how they fell in such trap and the consequences they faced,” he noted.

According to officials, there is an office in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion that has responsibility to link these people.

The Justice Week runs from March 18-22, intends to raise awareness about such emerging crimes as human trafficking and cybercrimes.

Source The New Times

Rwanda Government Seeks Partnerships to Roll Out More Youth Centres

By Marie-Anne Dushimimana

Among the services delivered at the youth centres include skills that help the youth to fight unemployment as well as some health services such as information, especially on reproductive health and HIV prevention.

The Ministry of Health will collaborate with more partners to increase youth centres across the country as it intensifies efforts to ensure that young people have easy and full access to reproductive health services.

This was revealed yesterday as the Ministry of Health held a meeting with 350 youth from 20 countries ahead of the second edition of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference. The three-day meeting, which starts tomorrow, will discuss Universal Health coverage.

Based on some indices like Community Based Insurance and health services given to Rwandans as a basic human right, Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, said that Rwanda is on the right track to achieving universal health coverage.

However, there was need to make some health services more accessible to young people.

“We want to increase this partnership. We now have 32 youth centres and we still have some districts which don’t have them. We want to increase the number of these centres to help the youth have easy and full access to these specific health services, especially concerning reproductive health,” she said.

Among the services delivered at the youth centres include skills that help the youth to fight unemployment as well as some health services such as information, especially on reproductive health and HIV prevention.

Dr Githinji Gitahi, the Chief Executive Officer of AMREF Africa, a health organisation working across Africa, said health achievements are not even across the continent and that each country has its own culture and norms, which influence health systems.

“We are asking ourselves the question of how young Africans who are the leaders of the future, as the majority people in this continent, how are they participating in making sure the universal health coverage is achieved and how is it responsive to the needs of this part of people, especially concerning reproductive health rights and access,” he said.

There is a necessity to identify the needs of young people and make sure they are included in making universal health access possible and that they are benefitting from it, he added.

Magnifique Irakoze, a medical doctor in Rwanda, said any decision or policy to be taken at any level should be implemented by the youth in order to raise their participation in policy formulation as early as possible.

“Young people don’t get sick easily but if they don’t take care of their health during their younger age, they can’t fulfil the roles they are given in the future,” he said.

Source The New Times

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

Rwanda: How best can the youth fight bad vices?

Children and Youth is a non-profit organisation 

By Lydia Atieno

Raising a child with proper manners takes effort. With today’s society dripping with temptation almost everywhere, establishing a morally upright background can be tough.

Going by this, ‘Children and Youth’ will launch Rwanda student’s lifestyle at Amahoro National Stadium this week with the aim of helping high school and university students fight bad vices such as drug abuse, transmission of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.

Children and Youth is a non-profit organisation with vocational programmes that help children between the age of five and 18 explore their talent in sports.

The youth should be encourged to stay away from vices such as drinking alcohol. Net photo.

Through sports, students are brought together to interact and discuss these issues.

Educators have a big role to play

Silvia Mahoro, a youth mentor and counsellor, says some vulnerable students may resort to risky behaviour to get necessities.

Mahoro says there is also lack of psychosocial guidance programmes in many schools and that although every educator is supposed to provide that support, not everyone is willing to provide it.

She believes the media also has a role to play in this.

“Sometimes what is exposed by the media makes young people curious to experience and indulge in,” she says.

Omer Mayobere, a psychologist at Caring for Impact Ministries (CIM), an NGO that promotes life in all its fullness among the youth, notes that most of the time, youth engage in dangerous activities due to factors such as family conflict, poverty, absence of parents to provide love, care and affection or a result of inter-generational issues from parents.

He is of the view that for this to be handled, educators should be trained first for them to understand why the youth get into such vices in the first place. He believes if they are equipped with enough knowledge, the youth will be given the right education on the effects of drug use not only as a disciplinary issue, but as a vice that has serious repercussions.

Educators on the other hand must have knowledge on human development, especially an understanding about teenage hood, Mayobere says. This, he says, will help them understand the world of the youth, change their attitude towards them, and provide approaches to use and deal with the issue of bad influence.

He advises educators to create weekly, monthly or quarterly dialogues, where different themes can be developed centred on the causes or effects of drug abuse. This will help students invent their own solutions, he says.

“This must be a participatory platform where educators create a conducive atmosphere to help students feel free to share their ideas. This will help them engage in fighting such vices,” Mayobere says.

According to Nelson Mukasa, Executive Director of Children and Youth, educators should encourage students to take vows or sign a social contract between themselves to fight against the issues affecting them. This can be done between schools and the Government, as it will help set a self-regulating mechanism on the prevention of such issues.

He says this must be a learning process to encourage ownership, adding that schools must have some campaigns using people who have overcome the vices to share their stories and learn from them.

When it comes to GBV, Mayobere says it’s ideal for teachers to be trained in gender sensitive approaches with emphasis on positive masculinity; this means that they (teachers) must have a structure on how to address these issues, and students on the other hand must have accountability.

Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist, says schools must schedule GBV dialogues in class in order to empower each and every student, in a way that students own the issue and implement creative resolutions.

He says many educators have little knowledge on these topics yet in some cases they are the ones suspected to misbehave, especially with GBV and risks related to HIV transmission.

“There is a gap in communication between parents and students, it is hard for young people to get into deep conversations on these issues with their parents because parents may not be knowledgeable, or their attitude is always tough disciplinary measures,” he says.

This makes children distant from their parents, yet they are supposed to get advice and help from schools as well as home, he adds.

Call for awareness

Aflodis Kagaba, the executive director of Health Development Initiative (HDI), says one of the main challenges when it comes to fighting such issues is that many youngsters are not aware of them or even the dangers associated with them.

He says there is an increase in drug use in the country with the youth ranking at the top.

According to statistics from Kigali Health Institute, more than half the youth in the country (14 to 35) have consumed one or more kinds of drugs.

Research shows that overall lifetime prevalence rate for substance use among the Rwandan youth is 52.5 per cent.

Kagaba, therefore, says if the youth are not educated on the dangers of drugs, the number will likely increase because a big number of them are idle and unemployed; thus resorting to abusing drugs, leading to other vices.

He says because the youth are at times lured to these vices as a result of stress or peer influence, there is need to come up with mechanisms at the community level to help address the issue.

He also points out that educators should provide right and accurate information on the dangers.

“The main aim of creating this awareness is to prevent them from abusing, but at the same time, those who are addicted need to be supported mentally and psychologically and helped to quit the vice.”

Kagaba believes that sporting is important because it attracts many, making it easy to pass information.

He says through sports, the youth are able to understand such issues. It also helps them reach out to their peers.

“When they are aware, they will most likely abstain from these vices, including drugs and sexual activity, thus avoiding unwanted pregnancies, HIV and other infections,” he says.

Kagaba adds that the most important aspect is that awareness through sports can encourage the youth to share and talk about the dangers of these vices, which is helpful as far as abstinence is concerned.

Kagaba also says that young people should be encouraged to take part in prevention measures, especially boys who are more likely to be the perpetrators of GBV.

Source The New Times

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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

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