President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has said the nation made remarkable achievement despite inherent challenges.
Kagame made the submission while opening the Umushyikirano (National Dialogue Council) recently at the Kigali Convention Centre in Kigali town, Rwanda.
The Council, which meets once a year, debated issues relating to the state of the nation and national unity.
Kagame said the country’s agriculture has grown to 8% this year despite the challenges that faced the country. Kagame named some of the challenges to include attack of armyworm and severe drought.
He however added that the country was able to overcome them due to the cooperation of government agencies that worked closely with farmers to improve on irrigation to combat the drought and found a solution to end armyworm crisis that had staged a threat to food security.
“Agriculture and animal production is the centre of our growth and we shall do everything possible to protect the sector from any attack,” he said.
Kagame also said government had invested in domestic seed production which has reduced imports of seeds and improved on the quality of the seeds farmers can get from the market.
“When we produce our own seed, we are able to monitor the quality of seeds. This will also reduce crop diseases that have affected the country in the past,” he added.
This year, a plague of crop-destroying armyworm caterpillars spread to East Africa where officials confirmed their presence for the first time in Uganda.
The caterpillars ate maize, wheat, millet and rice, which are key food sources in eastern Africa, where many areas are already struggling with shortages after years of severe drought.
They also attack cotton, soybean, potato and tobacco fields.
The president also said they will reach out to the young people who have just graduated to take up agriculture in order to increase the food production that will improve on the food security and exports.
Taking the audience through the investment and infrastructure, Kagame said the government invested $1.5 billion this year, adding that the Bugesera Airport is already under construction that will boost the economy of the country.
He said the Made-in-Rwanda strategy has increased the export to 50% while the imports declined to 3% and over 800 jobs were created.
He thanked the health workers for their dedication towards service delivery, adding that they have been able to contain HIV and malaria that were nightmares to Rwandans.
“We are now going to focus on disease prevention so that our people do not get diseases that could easily be prevented,” he explained.
The president said that, this year, over 169 international meetings took place in Rwanda because of the customer care the country has showed. “Rwanda will continue to a dream destination for such meeting and tourists at large,” he added.
The president also re-emphasised the need for regional integration, strengthening international relations and promotion of peace and security.
Giving an overview of the National Strategy for Transformation, the Rwanda Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, said government has created jobs for the youth and currently 24% of the workforce in Rwanda comprised young people.
He however said they are targeting 29% by 2024. “The government has decided to let the youth bridge and play a significant role in the job market,” he added.
Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Bank, said the private sector should create over 2,000 jobs per year in order to fight unemployment.
She said these are needed for restructuring and adding value to the good that are made in Rwanda.
“Made in Rwanda, Start in Rwanda, grow and beyond Rwanda is the strategy we should focus our energies on as it has the capacity to grow our economy and create more jobs for the young people. That means we need a serous transformation and scaling up,” she said.
By Hope Mafaranga in Kigali