Kigali, Serena Hotel, 7th February 2012

  • ·Leaders of Higher Institutions of our country;
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
  • Professor Paul Collier

Let me say that most of us have not only read “The Bottom Billion”, we have also been there- and some are still there. But going forward, I should say we are certainly “very worried, very well”, happy with the good progress we have seen in the numbers in the presentations. We are also aware that there is more work to be done, not less. And with the increased partnership, we look forward to continued progress.

I am pleased to be launching the second phase of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) following the successful implementation of the first. Let me, therefore, first congratulate and thank all the individuals, communities and partners who worked tirelessly to reduce poverty and raise living standards of Rwandans.

Over the past five years more than one million Rwandans lifted themselves out of poverty. The Third Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (ECIV3) and Fourth Demographic Health Survey (DHS4) that are being published today confirm that Rwanda – with good partnership – is on track to achieve most Millennium Development Goals. All this is directly related to the successful implementation of our first EDPRS.

Both surveys also reflect our commitment to evidence-based policy making.

I would like to share with you today four key factors which underpin these achievements.

First of all, the empowerment of our communities to plan and implement programs that transform their lives was pivotal. These communities inspired many innovative, home grown initiatives such as Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), Umuganda and One Cow per Family. There has been a mindset shift – Rwandans now know that we should aspire for more and better – and that the solutions are there within ourselves.

Secondly, strong institutions within central and local government, combined with accountable leadership are driving reforms and ensuring that change happens. Organising our communities and pushing for development is not simply an “organic phenomenon”; it is the duty of a responsible government, and the results we see today confirm this.

Thirdly, Rwandans have rejected the notion of a “poverty trap”. When we set our first EDPRS targets, some were sceptical about our ambitions. But here we are celebrating the achievement of over 90% of our goals. This proves that any country, even those with limited natural and human resources can, and should, aspire to eradicate poverty and grow to middle-income countries.

Finally, these achievements also indicate that development support can work effectively and citizens benefit directly when the right frameworks – including accountability mechanisms – are in place. Today’s results are a product of good working relations with our development partners based on mutual respect and country ownership of our national programmes.

We know that challenges remain. But this serves to instil an even greater sense of urgency to achieve our Vision 2020. The Second Generation of EDPRS we are launching today will identify the areas that require additional efforts and resources, and lay out strategies to accelerate progress.

However, the two surveys have already pinpointed key areas that require our attention:

First, we have to improve access to markets. This implies increased investments in infrastructure, especially our rural roads networks.

Second, access to energy is crucial to our transformation efforts. Although this has doubled in the past five years, it remains low.

Third, it is imperative to create off farm jobs by linking Small and Medium Enterprises to larger Foreign Direct Investments.

In addition, we must continue to increase skills and labour capacity across the board.

Finally, EDPRS 2 will also challenge our private sector to scale up private investment and grasp opportunities created by our improved business environment and higher purchasing power of Rwandans, as well as regional integration.

As we launch the next phase of EDPRS, let us bear in mind that attaining sustainable development is not only a socio-economic goal but a fundamental responsibility in our continuous task of building a stable, united and democratic nation. We owe it to ourselves and those who will come after us to succeed.

It is now my pleasure to officially launch EDPRS2.

Thank you for your kind attention.