Rwanda: Ten Highlights From Premier Ngirente’s News Conference

The Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Wednesday May 18 hosted a press conference after the launch of the second phase of the Economic Recovery Fund (ERF), a policy response unleashed two years ago to support Covid-19 hit business.

The Premier, who was flanked by several top government officials, gave an update on the economy, CHOGM preparations and also answered a wide range of questions from both local and international media organizations.

Below are the 10 highlights

1. Rwanda finds alternative wheat suppliers in Brazil, Australia

Rwanda is now importing wheat from both Brazil and Australia, following the Russia-Ukraine crisis that has forced the government to search for an alternative source, from the two countries which were the majority suppliers.

“We have found new suppliers in Brazil and Australia. The only challenge compared to our previous markets is the long distance which increases shipping costs,” Ngirente said, maintaining that the quantity imported is relatively the same.

Ngirente also disclosed that the government is searching for new markets to import fertilizers which have increased by 120 percent per kilo.

2. Projections signify reduction in commodity prices

The current inflationary pressures are mainly attributed to the economic shock caused by Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

According to Ngirente, government projects that by next year, the now hiked-prices are set to return to normal.

Journalists cover Prime Minister Ngirente’s news briefing in Kigali on Wednesday, May 18. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

He explained that there is currently no global economic crisis that could lead to long term economic effects.

He also sounded optimistic that the ongoing recovery interventions will support the country to absorb the shock.

3. CHOGM preparations in high gear

Rwanda is confident in the current preparations to host the much-anticipated Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the premier told the media.

He attributed the move to the ongoing infrastructure developments, new road networks and increased personnel at the CHOGM Secretariat, among others.

With nearly a month to go, the Premier pointed out that the government has identified venues, hotels that will accommodate the guests and everything is in place.

“However, we still call upon partners, especially those with small businesses to improve service delivery at their level,” he added.

4. CHOGM guidelines due in two weeks

In less than 15 days, Ngirente said that the government is set to announce a new roadmap that is expected to direct and inform movements for both delegates and the general public.

He allayed concerns that the new arrangement will hinder movement of people, citing that it has been well informed.

“It will also feature directions on schools, public servants among others.”

5. Relations with neighbours

Regarding the efforts to normalize ties with Burundi, Ngirente said that there have been several engagements on both sides to address the issue.

The premier didn’t disclose details of the talks, but he assured that Rwanda and Burundian authorities continue to witness progressive and better bilateral relations.

“We believe that when two governments decide to rule out a certain problem, then it ceases in one way or another,” he said.

For instance, Ngirente highlighted that both countries have been exchanging several delegates and that there is a promising trend in restoring ties.

The outcome, he asserted, could lead to the reopening of Rwanda-Burundi land borders.

6. Rwanda-Uganda relations

Rwanda and Uganda are seeing significant progress in restoring bilateral relations and the trend is expected to advance, according to PM Ngirente.

Both governments, according to him, are now looking to see that bilateral trade resumes.

On the side of Rwanda, the Premier said, several authorities including the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Rwanda Revenue Authority have been given the task to fast track the development.

However, putting in context new developments that emerged after trade between the two countries came to a halt, there is a set of standards that Ugandan products should possess to be able to compete on the Rwandan market.

“What I can possibly say is that trade between the two countries will resume very soon,” he said.

7. On the Rwanda-UK asylum deal

Asked about whether Rwanda will cancel her recent asylum deal with the United Kingdom, Ngirente said that every resolution which attracts scrutiny must not be necessarily canceled.

He said that both parties maintain their plan to transfer unauthorized migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda, reiterating that it was a well-informed arrangement.

When pressed about details, he said, “We have designated places already, and we can expect the first batch soon.”

The Premier likened the backlash to the case of Libyan asylum seekers, a policy that has now been widely welcomed.

“You can expect that most naysayers will welcome the deal after we have received the first batch.”

8. Public cautioned against complacency on Covid-19

With the numbers of Covid-19 going down and hardly any cases of hospitalization or deaths, Rwanda relaxed restrictions including lifting mandatory wearing of face masks.

However, the Premier during the conference, encouraged the public to keep observing preventative measures, especially now that the country readies to host major gatherings.

9. Govt to fast track stadium renovations

With a bid to host international football games, the government has embarked on a plan to accelerate the renovations being undertaken especially to major stadiums.

The development follows months after the football governing body had banned local stadiums from hosting international matches, citing sub-standards of the facilities.

10. Economic recovery fund launched

The Premier also presided over the launch of the second economic recovery fund (ERF) worth a total of $250 million.

The fund is an extra injection to an initial $100 million fund, bringing the total mobilized fund to $350 million to among others increase access to finance and also support recovery and resilience of businesses.

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