Following a proposal floated during last year’s National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) to mobilise resources to help wean Rwanda off foreign aid, a sovereign fund dubbed Agaciro Development Fund (AgDF)has been created.
Agaciro is a Kinyarwanda word closely translated to mean dignity or self-worth.
The process is spearheaded by Rwandans in the Diaspora, with support from their compatriots living in the country. The initiative has also received profound backing from the government.
Three accounts have been opened in Bank of Kigali, Bank Populaire and the National Bank of Rwanda, several deposits have already been made.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, John Rwangombwa, explained why the Fund is a brilliant initiative. “The idea is to mobilise voluntary resources from Rwandans and well-wishers that would compliment government resources and expedite our development programmes towards achieving the Vision 2020”.
The Finance ministry, the principal custodian of AgDF, is collaborating with various institutions to officially launch the Fund.
The timing of the Fund is of further significance as it comes at a time several development partners have announced delays or cuts in budget support to Rwanda, following allegations contained in an addendum to a draft UN experts reports that Kigali was backing the M23 rebellion in the Congo.
The government has rebuted the accusations with the final UN Group of Experts report due in November.
President Paul Kagame is one of the leading campaigners for Africa’s self-sufficiency. Several African countries are still heavily dependent on western aid money.
Donors fund nearly 50 per cent of Rwanda’s budget. The country’s 2012/13 budget stands at about Rwf1.378 trillion.
Aimable Rwamucyo, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Diaspora Global Network (RDGN), said that discussions on details of the operations of the Fund were still ongoing.
“We are continuing to mobilise all Rwandans worldwide to take part in this noble cause”.
The Diaspora community is increasingly assuming a significant role in the country’s development, with remittances last year increasing by 12.5 per cent compared to the previous year (from Rwf320 billion in 2010 to Rwf360 billion).
Oscar Bahizi, Vice Rector Finance and Administration, Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD), said the Fund should be a source of pride.
“We should be proud of the initiative because it is a demonstration of how Rwandans are willing to develop their nation without waiting for foreign support,” Bahizi emphasised.
Contributions to the Fund may come from individuals, groups of people or institutions.
Vianney Kabera, the Director General of Fresh Pack Exports, rallied fellow Rwandans urging them to participate, “We are happy for this initiative and committed to contribute to it. Rwandans should seize the opportunity and help the country build an aid-free future”.
Jeanne d’Arc Muhoza, a resident of Kacyiru in Kigali City, said she would happily contribute to the Fund. “If I can put in Rwf10, 000 every month, at the end of the year it is more than Rwf100, 000. Every patriotic Rwandan will certainly want to raise something no matter how much”.
She added: “The fact that our government is known for proper management of public funds gives us confidence that this Fund will indeed make a difference. It is for us to build this country and that’s the purpose of the Agaciro (Development) Fund”.