European Commission From 28 to 30 September, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will pay his first visit to Rwanda. He will travel together with Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Charles Michel, on behalf of the EU Belgian Presidency. They will have bilateral meetings with high level Rwandese authorities.
EU Commissioner Piebalgs will take this opportunity to sign two financial agreements, for a total amount of €51.85 million. The first agreement aims at supporting regional road connections and cross-border cooperation in the field of energy and hydropower; the second will support Rwanda to improve public financial management based on sound statistics. EU Commissioner Piebalgs and Belgian Minister Charles Michel will also visit the Commission’s and Belgian funded projects to assess the impact of the aid on the ground.
Andris Piebalgs said: “One week after global leaders reaffirmed their ambition to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, I have chosen to visit Rwanda, which is one of the few African countries to be “on track” towards their achievement. It proves that we can do it, and I want to see which concrete impact EU aid has had on the ground. Rwanda also showed that in a peaceful context and with stable institutions, aid can act as a catalyst to create an environment for sustainable and inclusive economic growth”.
Signature of Financial Agreements
During his trip the Commissioner will sign two financial agreements:
1. Signature of an agreement for an amount of €45 million to support the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), which brings together Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo. The project aims at rehabilitating road connections between 6 neighbouring cities in the three member countries and also by funding CEPGL cooperation in the field of energy and hydropower.
2. Together with Finance Minister John Rwangombwe Commissioner Piebalgs will sign an agreement for an amount of €6, 85 million to support the Statistical Institute and Public Finance Management.
Impact of EU’s aid
During their mission Commissioner Piebalgs and Minister Michel will visit numerous aid projects to evaluate how development aid works on the ground. The projects funded by the Commission include:
- The bench terrace project which is considered as the best way to mitigate soil erosion and increase agricultural production. The EU programme implemented 1,800 hectares of bench terraces on cultivated lands in 6 districts, which directly benefited 15,047 households. The intervention had very positive impacts on job creation and future income perspectives.
- Mpazi ravine restoration project pursued the double goal of preventing further degradation of the site and facilitating the socio-economic reintegration of demobilized combatants and other vulnerable individuals.
- The objective of rehabilitation of the Ruhengeri-Giseyi road was to improve communication, reduce transport costs, facilitate imports and exports and thus contribute to the regional integration with this commercially and politically very important area.
- EU support to coffee sector largely contributed to re-launching market-led cash-crop agriculture after the genocide which had the effect of depleting exports and decreasing land use. The main objectives of the programme were to a) improve farm and national revenues through re-launching added value export cash-crops, and b) increase livelihoods through local initiatives and a participatory approach.
The Belgium funded projects include:
- Support Programme for reforestation
- MUTOBO demobilisation Centre
- Institutional Support Programme to the conception and implementation of the strategic health development Plan for the city of Kigali
- Support Project for Gakenke District Local Development
In terms of development, Rwanda is one of the few ACP countries to be “on-track” to achieving most of the MDGS. For the period 2008–13, the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), main EU financial instrument for development aid, allocates €290 million to the country. 60% of the budget (€175M) focuses on social services such as education, health and water. The two priority areas are rural development (€40M) and infrastructure (€50M). Given Rwandan strong performance in implementing the cooperation, up to 75% of the EU aid is disbursed via budget support (general and sectoral).
Rwanda is also one of the countries benefiting from a “Millennium Development Goals-Contract” programme.
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