31 December 2012

Rwanda: Events That Shaped the Year 2012

Today is the last day of what has turned out to be a remarkable year in the history of Rwanda.

As we anxiously wait to usher in the New Year at midnight, let us remember the captivating events that will probably never be forgotten in the 2012 calendar.

Agaciro Devt Fund launched

Launched in August by President Paul Kagame, the Agaciro Development Fund (AgDF) will probably go down in the history books as Rwanda's most unique home grown initiative.

Having come at a tumultuous period when Rwanda's development partners were starting to act more like mischievous donors-with-strings-attached, many thought that it is aimed to fill the aid gap, but as it turned out, the fund is more than that.

The solidarity fund is aimed at supplementing state resources and foreign aid, with a long term strategy of ensuring Rwanda's self sustenance.

Since its launch, AgDF has been well received by Rwandans and so far, Rwf12 billion has been collected out of a total pledge of Rwf26 billion.

The most interesting attribute about this kind of solidarity fund is that it can only work in very few countries of the world, if not Rwanda alone. This is supported by the fact that the government has built a strong anti-corruption stance and policy efficiency pattern, which have helped to build solid trust amongst its citizenry.

Rwanda is elected to UNSC

The last time Rwanda occupied a seat on the UN Security Council was in 1994, a year that is not only marked as a dark chapter in the history of Rwanda, but also as a nightmare in the history of international peacekeeping efforts.

In October 2012, Rwanda got the seat again, winning 148 votes out of the available 193.

Unlike in 1994 when the Genocide against the Tutsis claimed over a million lives, today's Rwanda is characterised with unity, development, peace and security.

Misused by Rwandan representatives at the time, the seat on the UNSC has come again, as a chance for the nation to increase its stake in the creation of world peace, after cementing its place as the sixth largest contributor to peacekeeping operations worldwide.

Although the UNSC is still in the tight grip of the five permanent strong members, USA, China, Russia, UK and France, Rwanda has indicated over and again that it has what it takes to represent Africa's interests.

Country secures the "dot rw domain" from Belgium

For ICT enthusiasts and for a country with ambitions to become the region's ICT hub, this was the most important highlight in 2012. After waiting a long seven years, Rwanda gained all rights from Belgium to manage the government's web domain in September this year.

This proud achievement means that the country can manage its web domain cost effectively and also ensure that private websites can be opened faster and cheaply.

Hosting the domain in Rwanda also promotes creation of local content, enhances cyber security and makes it easier to find the country's web content on search engines like Google.

Minister Inyumba passes on

The country was in high spirits preparing for the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Silver Jubilee celebrations, when suddenly the saddest news hit the airwaves. The respected and senior RPF cadre, Aloysea Inyumba passed on, leaving the country in a murky cloud of grief and mourning.

As the Minister of Family and Gender Promotion, Inyumba's legacy goes beyond liberating the country from genocidal forces to actively fighting for the rights of children and women of Rwanda.

"The mother of all children" was instrumental in establishing the national women's network, which helped arbitrate family and property issues resulting from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.

She also oversaw the burial of genocide victims, the resettlement of former refugees, actively promoted truth-telling and reconciliation, and spearheaded a national adoption campaign to place genocide orphans in homes.

Inyumba's life was of selfless service and she lived it to the fullest, and her death was the lowest national moment in 2012.

RPF marks Silver Jubilee

The RPF-Inkotanyi was formed in 1987 by Rwandese refugees who craved to return home, but it was not until seven years later that they managed to defeat genocidal forces and take control of the country.

This year marked 25 years since the RPF-Inkotanyi was formed and this period has witnessed steady growth, peace and poverty reduction that the country had never seen in its history.

The Chairman of RPF-Inkotanyi, President Paul Kagame, took the stand to remember those who made invaluable contribution towards the liberation struggle, both the deceased and living.

The celebration events held on December 20 were graced by several dignitaries, including President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn and Mama Maria Nyerere, the widow of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.

Butaro Cancer Center opened

Rwanda became home to the first national cancer referral centre in East Africa when Butaro Cancer Center opened in July 2012.

The US$5.8 million establishment funded by the Clinton Foundation is expected to bring quality care for cancer patients in the region and thus reduce transport costs as well as cut the burden faced by other ill-equipped centres.

With World Health Organisation estimating 16 million new cancer patients worldwide by 2020, with 70% in developing countries, having such a healthcare facility in Rwanda is worth noting as the most important achievement in the health sector.

High quality gold spotted in Gicumbi

Rwanda has for decades been portrayed as a tiny resource-poor country, despite lying in the Great Rift Valley well-known for its abundant mineral wealth.

News that there is gold in the Western and Northern provinces is well-known, but the quality and quantity is what played on as a mystery for a long time.

In September, the quality question was ticked off when Rogi Mining, the country's largest gold explorer, assessed the gold in Gicumbi, Northern Province to be of high quality.

When its quantity is also verified as large in the near future, Rwanda's mineral sector, which is largely made up of cassetirite, wolfram and coltan, will be largely boosted by the this precious metal.

Also importantly, the government is also seeking to increase production of other minerals including tantalite, tungsten, niobium and lithium.

Mugesera deported to answer for genocide crimes

After sixteen years since Rwanda issued an arrest warrant for Leon Mugesera on charges of inciting genocide against the Tutsis, he was deported from Canada to Rwanda on August 24, 2012.

Having made an infamous hate speech in 1994 that resulted into the murder of over one million lives, Mugesera's deportation came as a relief for genocide survivors.

The incident sent out a strong message to other top genocide fugitives who continue to roam the world while eluding justice, such as Felicien Kabuga, Augustine Bizimana, Protais Mpiranyi, Callixiste Nzabonimana, Idelphonse Nzeyimana and Augustine Ngirabatware.

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