Focus Media (Kigali)

12 November 2008

Rwanda: CEO of Development Board Named

The Rwanda Development Board, which will group several existing government agencies, last week presented Joseph J. Ritchie as its Chief Executive Officer.

The RDB announced that Joseph J. Ritchie will serve as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Ritchie, an American businessman, has been working for the past five years to promote Rwanda to business leaders around the world. He currently serves on President Kagame's Advisory Council.

"The RDB will work to transform the way Rwanda does business with the world," Ritchie said at his presentation. "We will strive to institute a private-sector mentality, which will be critical to building a knowledge-based economy, creating jobs, and increasing opportunities for all Rwandans."

The RDB, established by law in September 2008, will combine eight government agencies: the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA); the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN); the Privatization Secretariat; the Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency; the Rwanda Information and Technology Authority (RITA); the Center for Support to Small and Medium Enterprises (CAPMER); the Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Development Agency (HIDA); and the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA).

The realignment of these agencies will allow the government to gain efficiency, provide greater oversight and accountability, and advance cross-cutting strategies to accelerate economic growth and development which no individual agency or ministry could do on its own.

One of the RDB's key objectives will be to improve the effectiveness and responsiveness of government, particularly in its dealings with potential business investors. The RDB will work to create a government that is more responsive to the needs of its citizens and investment partners.

The RDB will also work to enact structural and cultural reforms to accelerate Rwanda's strategic growth and development, consistent with Rwanda's Vision 2020. Key to this strategy, RDB will lead the government's efforts to create a climate that will make Rwanda a compelling global hub for business and investment.

RDB will moreover pursue legal and regulatory reforms, while working to enhance infrastructure that supports private sector development, including transportation, information and communications technology, and human capacity development. The RDB is modeled after similar efforts that have proven successful around the world, most notably Singapore's acclaimed Economic Development Board (EDB).

The EDB, created in the 1963, was one of the key factors in Singapore's growth from a developing country to a leading player on the global economic stage in just one generation. Singapore is consistently ranked the number-one country in the world to do business.

Ritchie will be supported by the following management team: Principal Deputy CEO, Francis Gatare, former Director of RIEPA; Deputy CEO for Tourism and Conservation, Rosette Rugamba, former Director of ORTPN; Deputy CEO for IT, Nkubito Bakuramutsa, former Director of RITA; Deputy CEO for Business Operations and Services, Clare Akamana; Deputy CEO for Human and Institutional Development, Harorimana Deogratias.

The law allows for a one-year transition period to integrate the existing agencies into a fully operational RDB. However, the RDB management team announced that it is working aggressively to address a number of logistical issues that will allow for a smooth and expeditious transition over the next several months.

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