23 September 2018

Rwanda: Why Rwanda Cooperation Initiative Was Set Up

An extraordinary Cabinet Meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame last week made several appointments including top executives at the newly formed Rwanda Cooperation Initiative.

Its Chief Executive Officer is Louis-Antoine Muhire who returned home from Canada about four years ago and started Mergims, a financial technology firm facilitating diaspora remittances to African countries.

"I am deeply honored, humbled and I thank the Cabinet, chaired by His Excellency Paul Kagame, for the faith placed in me," Muhire told Sunday Times.

Cabinet also appointed RosineUrujeni as the RCI's Chief Operations Officer and Freddy Makuza is the Chief Finance Officer.

Manage home grown solutions

The RCI is a public company under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community in close collaboration with the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, that will manage (marketing and commercialization) the country's home grown solutions.

It was established by the Government to manage the exchanges of ideas and experiences with other countries in the interest of South to South Cooperation (SSC).

South to South Cooperation is a term historically used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, also known as countries of the Global South.

South to South Cooperation is about developing countries working together to find solutions to common development challenges.

The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, UzzielNdagijimana, told this reporter that RCI is a new "initiative to promote our home grown solutions that have worked well in the country.

"We have a lot of demand from our sister countries from Africa who want to see how they [home grown solutions] work in Rwanda and if possible about their replication in other countries," Ndagijimana said.

"We want to organize and have that entity to coordinate that cooperation, because currently what is happening is that [visiting] delegations will come and go to visit different institutions asking for explanations and this is not well organized. So, having one place where people can come and discuss and get documentation is what we want".

Asked whether the new institution would often outsource foreign consultants, the minister explained that it cannot be the case as all the consultants required will be Rwandans.

"This all is about solutions by Rwandans. It about all these solutions that were built on our values and traditions to address specific problems of the nation.Girinka, for example, is a programme that was really based on the Rwandan culture of giving cows to friends but it is now being used to reduce poverty, by targeting the most vulnerable people in our society," he said.

"If you also consider the Umuganda, or the community works, this is also something from our tradition and it is being customized to current needs and used to do a lot of things such as schools construction, tree planting, cleaning and so many others. It has been very successful and appreciated by many other countries."

Post Genocide Rwanda drew on numerous aspects of its culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt development programs to its needs and context.

The result was various culturally owned practices translated into sustainable development programs, including Ubudehe, another best known Rwandan home grown solution because of its participatory development approach to poverty reduction.

Other home grown solutions include: community mediators (Abunzi), the community courts [Gacaca courts] that were instrumental in processing millions of criminal cases that arose following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and performance contracts (Imihigo).

Ndagijimana said all the solutions are now being formalized and the government is even trying to protect them in terms of intellectual property rights.

"So, you cannot borrow any experts [from abroad] as the real experts are from here, in Rwanda. These are real solutions developed by Rwandans and they are the ones we need to assist others to learn more about them."

The annual National Dialogue Council (Umushyikirano), a forum where participants debate issues relating to the state of the nation, the state of local government and national unity; as well as the National Leadership Retreat, are other key home grown solutions.

Rwanda

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