The New Times (Kigali)

25 June 2011

Rwanda: SMEs Can Help Check the Effects of Population Growth

Rwanda must support SME's growth to check the risk of population growth, an emerging threat to the country's economic growth and development, according to experts.

The current population growth of 2.7 per cent annually leading to 300,000 new born babies every year if unchecked is expected to triple population numbers by 2015.

This, according to analysts will cripple the economic growth and stall the country's vision 2020 and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) attainment.

Francois Sekamondo, from the Ministry of Finance asserts that investing in activities gearing towards promoting the private sector would help curb the aftermaths of population growth.

Innovations to strengthen and support the SME both from government and private initiatives have seen huge sums pumped into the sector, the recent being guarantee funds and grants by Rwanda Development Bank.

Florence Batoni, a Research Fellow with Institute of Policy and Research (IPAR) underscores the need to emphasise key population regulation and reduction priority strategies in the population policy that is before the parliament for review.

Speaking during a workshop aimed at sensitizing stakeholders on the effects of the recent unchecked population growth organised by Institute of policy and research-IPAR, Batoni believes rapid population growth is "going to impede government's efforts to provide quality education, infrastructure, and health and impact pressure on land".

Mikkel Harder, Country Manager Educat Rwanda believes that it is crucial to build in mechanisms to strengthen and secure the quality of the services provided, as the government and private players offer fund reliefs to SMEs to boost its capacity.

"Besides creating mechanisms to solve these challenges I believe that it is also important to invite social enterprises like Educat and innovative partnerships to participate in delivering business development services to SMEs," he noted.

There is an urgent call as John Bosco Ruzibuka, Population Economist and Consultant, INNOVEX D.C in Kigali puts it to mainstream population, promote reproductive health to reduce fertility rate currently standing at six children per woman.

"Reproductive health and family planning utilisation should be the main entry point. This would make an impact on the trends of population age structure over time," he said

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