The Government of the People's Republic of China, yesterday, announced funding worth US$116 million to finance the Rusizi-Rubavu highway, through Karongi District, which is hoped to boost tourism and trade.
The road stretches 66 kilometers, in two different patches of 42 and 24 kilometres.
Speaking after the signing of the financing agreement, Finance Minister John Rwangombwa observed that the facility is a soft loan to be paid within 20 years, and carries an interest rate of 1.5 per cent per year with a grace period of seven years.
"We see China as a great partner in development," said the minister.
He said the Kivu Belt was a rich region in terms of agriculture and tourism, thus the construction of the road will significantly boost the economy.
The Kivu Belt road has a total length 185km whose construction started way back in 2010, with initial funders including the African Development Bank and the Arab Development Bank (BADEA).
Rwangombwa said government has mobilised all the required funds, with the works estimated to take three to four years before its completion.
Western Province is said to be producing 70 per cent of the nation's coffee and 40 per cent of the tea, while a lot of fishing activities are carried out on Lake Kivu.
"It's on the shores of Lake Kivu and a lot of spots like the hot springs which is part of the tourist attraction in the country and transport has been a challenge because of poor road network," he said.
The highway is a multinational road, connecting Rwanda to Burundi, Tanzania through Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, and is expected to contribute to regional integration, as well as stimulating trade between the four countries.
The Ambassador of China in Rwanda, Shu Zhan, expressed his gratitude for the existing bilateral ties between the two countries.
The road is being constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation under the supervision of CIMA, a Canadian firm.
According to the national budget 2012/13, Kivu-Belt road, which runs from Rusizi to Rubavu through Karongi, is among the priority projects.
Some of the national infrastructures that have previously been built with support of China, include, Amahoro National Stadium, several roads in Kigali, the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, schools, hospitals, among others.
The funds for the road will be disbursed in the course of the construction, with the first batch expected to be transferred in three months time.