The New Times (Kigali)

1 May 2012

Rwanda: Gov't Committed to Entrepreneurship - Kagame

The Government of Rwanda will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure that all Rwandans with good ideas can become entrepreneurs, President Paul Kagame has said.

The pledge is contained in the President's Labour Day message to Rwandans on the day the nation joins the rest of the world to mark this year's May Day.

"This is why the Business Development Fund, accessible all over Rwanda, was created - to support Rwandans to create jobs from innovative ideas, particularly those who have difficulty (in) accessing loans," Kagame said in a statement released by the State House today.

"I want to thank you for the work you do every day to advance your families, communities and our nation. Our efforts as Rwandans, in collaboration with our partners, have already started to show good results. In the past five years one million Rwandans raised themselves from poverty," he said.

But the Head of State added: "We still have more work to do together to take our nation and our people where we deserve to be."

Rwanda has set an ambitious economic agenda, with its sights firmly set on becoming a middle income economy by 2020.

In March this year, the government revised upwards its Vision 2020 targets, to the GDP per capita of US$1, 240, up from $900. Currently, the GDP per capita is hovering around $560.

To achieve that target, the country will need to register an average of 11.5 per cent economic growth, with agriculture growing at over 8.5 per cent, according to official estimates.

Currently, of the 47 listed Vision 2020 indicators, 60 per cent have been achieved or are on track, 17 per cent are achievable, while concerted efforts are needed to achieve the remaining 23 per cent.

In his message to the nation, President Kagame said that 125,000 young Rwandans enter the job market every year, adding that "their talents, energy and goodwill have to be matched by opportunity."

He congratulated the winners of this year's competition for Small and Medium Enterprises from all the districts, telling them "you are leading the way for the development of our country."

"Rwanda will be built by the hands of its citizens; we know already how far we can go when we work together. Let us continue to uphold the value of work because it goes hand in hand with dignifying ourselves and our country."

Rwanda is looking to weaning itself off aid, with more than 50 per cent of the country's budget now domestically funded.

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