By The Inspirer staff
Rwanda’s urbanisation, especially secondary cities initiative, is set to get a boost thanks to Belgium’s new programme to finance Rwanda’s development with 120 million Euros (about Rwf120 billion) in the next five years, the Belgian Ambassador to Rwanda has said.
Ambassador Benoit Ryelandt made the remarks on Thursday, November 22, 2018, during the National Local Economic Development (LED) conference held in Kigali.
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Local Entities Development Agencies (LODA) in cooperation with Enabel – a Belgian Development Agency.
A new LED strategy running from 2018 through 2024 has vision to achieve competitive and inclusive local economies that boost Rwanda’s socio-economic transformation.
Fully acknowledging the importance of urbanisation and its link with LED for further development of Rwanda, Ryelandt said that the high portion of the funds will be channeled to advance urbanisation initiative.
“Belgium currently prepares a new support programme to Rwanda with a budget of 120 EUR over five years (2019-2023), a substantial portion of which will be devoted to urban economic development,” the Ambassador observed.
“With these new interventions, Belgium will contribute to the development of economic infrastructure and enhancement of private sector initiatives in Rubavu, Musanze and Rwamanagana districts, with a view to promote sustainable socio-economic development and off-farm job creation,” she said.
Rubavu and Musanze are among Rwanda’s six secondary cities, which the government says are intended will be economic centres of growth for the country with improved roads and water networks, electricity, tourism development, schools and health centers, and are expected to stem the tide of rural to urban migration by supplementing Kigali as the major city of the country
According to the 2012 data from National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, 60 percent of those who migrate in search of jobs end up in Kigali City due to easy accessibility to infrastructure, investment opportunities, and other socio-economic aspects.
The new LED strategy states that branding and marketing of district potentialities is an important activity to attract investment to the district, and to clearly differentiate districts based on their competitive advantages.
It adds that clustering economic activities in a certain area rather than scattering them around the country enhances the competitiveness of the area, and stimulates innovation, networking and knowledge and skills transfer, which all contribute to LED. Urbanisation facilitates this process, at the same time enhances for local business development and job creation.
The Minister of Local Government, Prof. Anastase Shyaka said that the aspect of secondary cities [as] emerging cities is an important element to consider when talking about LED and ensuring national transformation.
“LED is meant to spur economic transformation of our nation. That will have to integrate the imperative of living no one behind. That is why the integration into LED strategies of people with lower economic capacity is of paramount important,” he said.
Among areas central to the LED, Shayaka said, there is the off-farm job creation, emergence of more domestic enterprises, enhancing environment for investment and business creation, urbanisation through the development of enabling infrastructure.
Less than 20 percent of Rwandans live in urban areas while this target is projected to reach 35 per cent by 2020, according to figures from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
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