AGACIRO Development Fund (AgDF) got off to a roaring start yesterday, when Rwandans from all walks of life and friends of Rwanda raised more than 1.2 billion at an event held in Kigali to launch the Fund.
The Fund will supplement other sources of revenue so as to accelerate the country’s social-economic development.
The idea of a solidarity fund was initially floated in 2011 during the National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) – a two day event, hosted by the President where ideas are openly exchanged and progress examined with national and global participation through the use of modern technology.
The Fund was later named Agaciro, a Kinyarwanda word closely translated to mean dignity or self-worth.
The President explained that while the fund serves to compliment other sources of funding needed to finance development activities across the country, Agaciro is exceptional as it demonstrates the willingness of the Rwandan people to own the development process.
“Development of our country is the responsibility of all Rwandans, young or old,” Kagame said, adding that no country has ever progressed while depending on others.
President Kagame said establishment of the Fund should be perceived as a sign of dignity – something that is earned and not accorded by others.
While the Fund has been launched at a time when some development partners have suspended support to the country, based on allegations the Rwanda is supporting rebels in the DRC, the President made it clear that Agaciro is not a substitute to the deferred Aid, but rather valuable contribution from the Rwandan people to the existing efforts, including donor support.
“Any support needs addition. No support is enough,” Kagame said.
The allegations compiled by a UN Group of experts lack credible evidence and of recent, details have emerged of how the evidence was fabricated.
Rwanda has been denied the chance to prove her innocence, with certain international organizations, donors and media houses concluding that Rwanda is guilty of fueling the crisis in Congo based on the allegations.
“The way the whole world descends on Rwanda is a mystery. It is not understandable,” Kagame said.
“This form of injustice you can’t find anywhere else.”
President Kagame, however, said that Rwandans have, before, been at the lowest point of life and they cannot go back.
“Try to find a silver lining, find value, learn how to deal with injustice,” Kagame said, adding that there is need to tap from the existing inner strength when crafting ways out of tight situations, without causing conflict.
The Agaciro Fund joins the list of home-grown initiatives that have seen Rwanda address challenges that would have, otherwise, been insurmountable. One example is the Gacaca courts. Exactly 10 years ago, Gacaca courts were re-introduced in the country as the best alternative to accord justice to the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who were crowded in prisons.
Without the Gacaca courts, it could have taken the conventional justice system hundreds of years to try all the Genocide cases, experts said.
The courts tried nearly 2 million suspects within the ten years.
The courts have not only been commended for delivering justice expeditiously, but also for promoting reconciliation, unearthing the truth about the Genocide and ending the culture of impunity.
At the launch of Agaciro Fund, several companies, organisations, public servants, politicians and individuals from the different walks of life, voluntary pledged to the Fund.
Agaciro Development Fund will be used to fund national priority projects that are in line with the country’s Vision 2020.
The funds are collected through three bank accounts: namely, the National Bank of Rwanda (Account Number 120.50.72. Swift code BNRWRW Branch: Headquarter); Bank of Kigali (040-0424687-43 Swift code: BKIGRWRW Branch: Headquarter), and Bank Populaire 408-369-34 98-11 Swift code: bprwrwrw Branch: Headquarter), where individuals and groups of people can make direct deposits.
For those abroad Rwanda, the government opened a website for the fund, www.agaciro.org, which has a window for debit or credit card money transfers.
Donations to the fund can also be made through SMS text messages to 2020, example; Agaciro (space) 500 which will deduct Rwf500 of airtime from the users account.
July has been earmarked as Agaciro month, where every year, mobilization of funds will be carried out.
Earlier, Kagame requested Rwandans and Africans to pay tribute to former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who passed away on Tuesday. He called on those present to observe a minute of silence in honour of the late Meles Zenawi.
He said that Premier Meles Zenawi was not a leader for Ethiopia alone, but an eminent leader for the entire African continent.
In Rwanda, Meles Zenawi is remembered for his role during the 1990-94 liberation struggle, when he supported the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army.