The government of Rwanda has put in place a project Agaciro Development Fund aiming to support Government activities especially in rural areas of the country, according to the Finance Minister John Rwangombwa when he recently met Journalists in a press conference.
The Minister said the government might ask some countries which have lately suspended and /or temporarily withheld their aid to Rwanda, to put an end to it; stating that people should find solution for achieving financial freedom and work with the country in a process towards having an independent economy.
The Minister of finance said the idea of 'Agaciro' Development Fund came from last annual national dialogue, which had proposed to create a 'national solidarity fund' with President Paul Kagame's emphasis on "Agaciro" in most of his speeches, the government decided to adopt a new name of Project. The word Agaciro in Kinyarwanda literally means 'Dignity'.
The aim of the fund among others is to support and speed- up government projects in rural areas, where many foreign aid projects are mostly based. Though the Minister did not mention those countries, but he said that some had at least once suspended their aid to Rwanda.
In 2010, a majority of Dutch political parties had called upon the Netherlands to cut its aid to Rwanda. The biggest party in the Dutch lower House and a member of the ruling coalition, wanted to cut back on the amount of money that flows directly into the Rwandan national budget. Other parties wanted to continue the freeze on this direct budget support that has been in place since 2008.
The Dutch aid was released sometime later. The minister did not name any country but it's obvious that Netherlands could be one of them. What Rwanda accuses them of, is that they took a decision basing on a "UN draft report" what Rwanda calls as baseless.
"Within partnership agreements, if there is any problem, we expect to sit on the table and discuss. But basing on a draft report and take action of delaying disbursement as it happened this year is completely against our partnership agreements and against general principles of aid effectiveness". Minister Rwangombwa emphasized.
Even if the idea of 'Agaciro' Development Fund was there, the process of speeding it up came after some countries to withhold their aid to Rwanda, following a UN draft report which suggested Rwandan army supports DRC rebels M23 which fights the Democratic Republic of Congo in the eastern part.
The Agaciro Development fund has already begun to operate according to the cabinet members who were also the first to give their contributions. In the last cabinet session, they collected Rwf33 million ($55,000) at once.
With another Rwandan franc five million from other volunteers, the money in the fund now reaches Rwf38 million, equivalent to $63,300; a sprit that is expected to proceed with high level of enthusiasm among majority of Rwandans.
All people's contribution to the fund must be voluntary. This might sound as an important statement to the Rwandan people, because it will encourage responsibility and patriotism for the benefit of both the present and future generation. Any local reader reported to have forced people to contribute for such voluntary projects will be dealt according to the law, as one should only encourage those he or she leads by empowering them with the right information.
The ministry of finance which has development planning in its attributions considers this fund as a long term and sustainable plan, which will help in reaching the nation's vision in 2020, to continue supporting massive rural projects such as rural electrification and safe water supply.
Different bank accounts have been created in this regard, and the Rwandan government is planning to negotiate with all telecommunication companies to help in mobilization. The Diaspora which has been pushing for the establishment of the fund is another potential with Rwf230 million amounting to $383,000 they generated last year.
Gahiji Innocent is the chief political columnist for Newsofrwanda.He grew up in Kampala,Uganda before moving to Rwanda.His column is syndicated to newspapers around the country. He has written columns from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel and South Africa. Gahiji , who has a B.A. degree in English from the University of Illinois, has been a Poynter Media Fellow at Yale University.