The New Times (Kigali)

29 August 2014

Rwanda: Rwf30 Billion EU Cash to Boost Regional Integration

Trade across the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region could soon be enhanced thanks to Euro33 million (about Rwf30 billion) earmarked by the European Union toward regional integration projects.

Member States like Rwanda are set to start applying for the funds before September 28, Peace Besemera, the Comesa coordinator at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said yesterday.

"We are still waiting for information on how much the region will receive because funds are distributed according to the projects each region is working on and for the East African Community (EAC) in particular, the funds will be going into infrastructure projects, sensitisation programmes, capacity building, among others.

And in Rwanda's case there are already ongoing projects such as the Karisimbi project.

Based at the summit of the Virunga Mountains in the Northern Province, Karisimbi project encompasses integration of Comesa air space control, climate observatory, broadcasting and cable-car system.

Though it's not yet clear how much each country will receive, the funds will be used to accelerate regional projects and help promote trade across the region.

The funds will be provided through the 10th European Development Fund (10th EDF) under the Comesa Adjustment Facility (CAF) and Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM).

Rwanda is among the 13 countries so far benefitting from the first tranche of the funds which amounts to €78 million and provided under the 9th EDF for the period 2008 - 2014.

Others include; Burundi, Djibouti, DR Congo, Comoros, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said there is need to focus more on designing programmes and utilising resources maximally.

Such programmes and project include supporting regional integration. New challenges are, however, emerging including the absorption capacity, efficient and effective utilisation of resources and achievement of impact, Ngwenya told the media in Lusaka.

He said regional integration is not for the benefit of governments but the consumers, who are not bothered with policies, strategies or instruments being put in place.

"What the consumer wants is a wide choice of goods and services, at the right time, with the right quality."

Four additional countries are expected to join in the 10th EDF for 2014 - 2016 period, bringing the total number of eligible States to 17.

Allocations and disbursement of RISM funds are given against the formulation and implementation of well-defined and ambitious regional integration indicators of individual member states.

Rwanda has joined hands with with its EAC partner states to fast-track regional projects, including the construction of Mombasa-Kigali railway line and an oil pipe line project.

The country was also appointed by Comesa to head the ongoing Aviation Comesa project which seeks to harmonise bottlenecks within the region's aviation industry.

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