President Paul Kagame has issued a rallying cry to all Rwandans to change their mindsets regarding the recent cutting off of foreign aid to Rwanda, saying that even before the halting of the aid, the plan has always been to work towards a self-reliant economy.
The President was speaking from Village Urugwiro in his now-customary press briefing in which he addresses members of the media, local and international alike. It was however, the first time this year that he addressed the media.
The main talking-point of the entire event was undoubtedly the issue of the suspension and eventual permanent termination of foreign aid the country receives from some major development partners, most notably the United Kingdom towards the tail-end of last year.
The President seized the opportunity to insist that the termination of this aid should not cause any consternation or even surprise to Rwandans, and should instead be used as a source of motivation and resolve to work even harder towards an aid-free, self-reliant Rwanda, since this has been the plan all along.
President Kagame pointed to the timely creation of the Agaciro Development Fund as just one of the many steps that were already being planned to slowly but eventually wean Rwanda off of dependence on foreign aid.
The Agaciro Development Fund is a solidarity fund created by the government late last year, through which Rwandans and friends of Rwanda can voluntarily contribute any amount of money to fund development projects aimed at self-sustenance.
The Fund was launched to a lot of acclaim and praise last year and has proved to be a huge success, collecting more than a Billion Rwandan Francs within hours of its launch and is currently continuing to stock-pile revenues from Rwandans, for Rwandans.
"Even before the creation of the fund, there were ideas being debated on, as to how we can eventually overcome dependence on foreign aid, to me this should not come as a surprise."
"What would have been sad is if this aid was cut due to a specific mistake we made or something we did wrong. But then again, I think this can also be considered a good thing since it builds resolve and forces us into action," the President said.
The Head of State also, in his press briefing, touched on other topics, lauding the progress he saw firsthand in Nyamasheke and Rusizi Districts after recently concluding a tour of the area.
He said that compared to two years ago when he last officially visited the areas, there have been tangible and noticeable development, most especially in social infrastructure such as electricity coverage, building of roads and enhancement in education facilities.
Reporters in attendance also queried the President on the low rates of exports that emanate from Rwanda to its neighboring countries in the region such as the East African Community members, all the while still importing heavily from the said countries.
To this President Kagame replied that the government will continue to develop and promote investment within the country to provide a more robust supplies sector, but the main goal will always be first and foremost to ensure availability of goods and services within the country before being too concerned with exports.