The New Times (Kigali)

16 December 2012

Rwanda Entry Points Open to Africans As Kagame Urges Patriotic Stance

Some visitors bring luck, others financial glow. Let's forget the bad visitors for the moment; we are thinking positive, after all, they say a positive attitude builds a stable future. Now, when you know of the virtues of visitors, especially those from the same figure-seven-shaped continent as your own Mother Earth, you might need to entice them into coming to your doorstep. As the directorate of immigration and emigration sees it, the answer is simple: open the borders to Africans and issue them with entry visas at the entry points.

Anaclet Kalibata, of course, is not your chameleon-slow public servant. He wants this new system effected at the tick of 2013. Kalibata says this will avoid delays in acquiring a visa, and purge the condition that hitherto required applicants to pass by their respective embassies. Of course, the government has one wink directed at investors, tourists and expatriates whose services the country would not hesitate to employ to advance the wellbeing of its people.

However, this new entry visa system should not excite you if you speak in decibels of M23 and such brouhaha from the jungles of DR Congo. The warring parties, after releasing the percussion cap of their rifles to take to the dais in Kampala, traded blames over the mess in DR Congo and the subsequent fighting. But like they had also read about the visa issue here, they agreed to sit down and talk, as Uganda's Chris Kiyonga, the defense minister who is chairing the peace talks, took to pampering the parties to set the agenda and get the gunpowder dusted.

M23 delegation chief Francois Rucogoza earlier said the security situation in the eastern DR Congo was down to the government's refusal to recognise that "there are internal problems that need thorough diagnosis and treatment." But not to be undone, the Kinshasa delegation shot back (with the mouth, not the gun) when foreign affairs minister Raymond Tshibanda accused the rebel team of insulting the government in their opening statement.

So the two burden brothers went to the dais behind closed doors. Well, the issue is sensitive, so they are justified to lock themselves for as long as they want. What for us here we want is that they should emerge from the talks alive. And not just alive, but also smiling and shaking hands. If they cannot do that, then what the President said can come to haunt us - this whole thing of a dead body being thrown at our doorstep so that we take the blame.

Speaking at the 10th annual National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura, President Paul Kagame called on Rwandans and Africans in general to continually fight against western injustices, saying while fighting for one's dignity might be costly, the price of accepting to be used as a tool was much higher.

"We are being accused of a crime in DRC that was committed long ago against Congolese, but today is blamed on Rwanda. Crimes are committed against Congolese by others and Rwanda is blackmailed to take the blame," Kagame said. Now you see why those guys who have locked themselves behind closed doors in Kampala should leave the room with smiles rather than cocked guns.

Construction permits go online

And talking of optimism as we await the brazen Congolese to settle themselves is another milestone January plot in offing. The Kigali City Council says it plans to make construction permit application and issuance done online beginning January. Shouldn't we already praise 2013 and the good projects its birthing upon us?

Officials say the pilot project is currently being developed in collaboration with the World Bank's lending arm, International Finance Corporation. The project Director Dr Donna Rubinoff said they want to improve the business climate by making construction permits processed in a short period of time and to improve customer service. Through the system, the entire process will be online, including applying for construction permits, payment and issuing of permits.

And talking of construction rings electric sirens in us. We have heard that the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority, together with UK-based company, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution Company, have identified several rivers with potential to generate hydro-power in the country. The New Times reported on Wednesday that Paul Darrel, an electricity consultant with the British company said rivers in Musanze District can produce electricity that can significantly contribute generation to the national grid. The UK-based company is also behind the construction of a four hundred Kilo Watt power dam on the Gatseke River, also in Musanze District. The project, which started in 2006, is slated for completion this year.

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