Seif Bamporiki, coordinator of Rwanda National Congress, a Rwandan opposition group in exile, was shot dead in Nyanga, Cape Town on Sunday, said South African police.
Western Cape police said on Monday that an investigation into the shooting is still underway. “The circumstances surrounding a murder are being investigated by Gugulethu police following an incident in Europa squatter camp where an adult male was shot and killed,” Police Colonel Andre Traut said.
“The deceased was pulled from his vehicle and shot, while the 50-year-old male who accompanied him managed to escape unharmed,” he said.
The Rwanda National Congress was established in the United States on Dec. 12, 2010. It was not clear if the killing was politically motivated.
Rwanda is a major destination for foreigners travelling in the East African region.
With a tourism industry that is developing day by day, an emerging conference industry; and an investment atmosphere characterized by increased ease of doing business, many foreign travellers have been, in the past years getting increasingly interested in coming to visit.
However, with the emergence of the pandemic, it is not business as usual.
Government has put in place a number of measures to prevent the spread of the virus and this has affected travel to and from the country.
Here are seven things that you should know about traveling to Rwanda during this time of the pandemic:
1. Filling a passenger locator form before traveling
Travellers arriving in Rwanda must complete a passenger locator form and upload a negative Covid-19 test certificate on www.rbc.gov.rw –the official website of Rwanda Biomedical Centre—prior to their arrival.
2. A negative RT-PCR test is mandatory upon arrival
All travellers arriving in Rwanda must have a negative Covid-19 certificate. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 120 hours of departure. This means that travellers must be tested and get results within 5 days of their flight. Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Test (RDTs) are not accepted.
3. All travellers are tested upon arrival. A test costs $60
After jetting in, it is mandatory for travellers to get tested again at the Kigali International Airport. The Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in partnership with the airport established a Covid-19 testing within the airport.
The test done here is a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), and a traveller has to pay $60 for it. This amount is prepaid using online means (rbc.gov.rw) before someone travels to Rwanda.
4. Waiting for results at transit hotels. Government negotiated special prices with the hotels ranging from $30 to $450
After testing at the airport, the travellers proceed to designated transit hotels where they have to wait for about 24 hours to get their results. A list of these hotels is available on rbc.gov.rw.
The Government of Rwanda negotiated special rates for the 24-hour waiting period at the hotels. The prices range from as low as $30 to $450.
5. Travellers whose tests turn out positive undergo treatment at their own cost
If the results of a person visiting the country return negative, they are allowed to continue with the business that brought them. But if the result is positive for (even if asymptomatic), they will be treated as indicated in the National Covid-19 Management Guidelines until they have fully recovered, at their own cost.
Rwanda Biomedical Centre encourages all travellers to have international travel insurance.
6. Screening at the borders for those who use land transport
Travellers from neighbouring countries traveling to Rwanda are taken to transit to designated transit hotels from where they are tested for Covid-19. A test costs $60.
7. Negative Covid-19 results required before departure, for all
All travellers departing from Rwanda must test negative for Covid-19. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 120 hours before departure. Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Test (RDTs), are not accepted.
RBC encourages travellers to book and pay for their tests at least 2 days prior to departure through the online platform available at rbc.gov.rw
Read More: newtimesrwanda
Rwanda has approved the cultivation and export of cannabis even as the use of the stimulant for medical or recreational purposes remains illegal in the country.
The government is targeting to grow its export earnings from the global cannabis market valued at the $345 billion according to analysts New Frontier Data.
The decision has caused confusion with some warning it could be detrimental to the youth if tough controls are not enforced.
Rwanda's Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije said that despite the government's intention to profit from the production and export of marijuana, its use in the country is prohibited.
"This will not give an excuse for drug abusers and dealers. The law against narcotics is available and it will continue to be enforced," Dr Ngamije said on state-run television Rwanda Broadcasting Agency on Tuesday.
A Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Paul Kagame, on Monday approved regulatory guidelines on cultivation, processing, and export of "high-value therapeutic crops".
While The EastAfrican has yet to see the guidelines by press time, a source from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) told the paper that cannabis is the crop referred to.
Last year, RDB had invited companies to bid for the development of medical cannabis in Rwanda with a focus on the export market.
The production or sale of cannabis is prohibited in Rwanda. Doctors are banned from prescribing it as medicine, and doing so could land them in jail for two years and a fine of about Rwf3 million (about $3000), under Article 266 of the Penal Code.
Use of the narcotics attracts a jail term of two years, while drug dealers face between 20 years to life in prison, and a fine of up to Rwf30 million ($30,000).
A day before the approval, three women in Rubavu District were arrested for drug peddling after they were caught with 1,800 pellets of cannabis.
Analysts say that the government's latest stance causes confusion and will require an amendment of the Penal Code as well as public sensitisation.
According to the law governing narcotics and psychotropic substances, authorisation of production, distribution and use of narcotic drugs shall be delivered if their use is limited to medical and research purposes only.
The law further states that every authorised private or public enterprise selected can only retain the quantities of narcotics drugs that are necessary for the smooth running of the enterprise.
These, analysts say, are contradictory.
"Basically, the government is authorising the production of illegal drugs. The Penal Code should have been amended before the government came up with this decision to allow the mass production of cannabis for export. The law must be clear because it is creating confusion," Louis Gitinywa, a constitutional lawyer based in Kigali told The EastAfrican.
"There should now be some form of legal framework to support this decision, and to explain to citizens how this will work."
Félicien Kabuga, a Rwandan businessman who was recently arrested for his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, is set to stand trial.
His trial brings to the fore the argument that the Rwandan genocide was planned against the Tutsi community because it is widely reported that, in the months leading up to the genocide, 581 tonnes of machetes were imported by supporters of the Habyarimana regime. Kabuga is accused of using his companies to import the vast quantities of machetes.
This narrative and infamous machete statistic has become accepted as part of history because of a report by Belgian economist Pierre Galand and Canadian Economy Professor Michel Chossudovsky. They were part of a 1996 mission to identify the role of international financial institutions, donors and creditors in relation to the genocide.
However, the data used for that report displays a number of inconsistencies and internal errors. This, in conjunction with other aspects, pokes a significant hole in the report’s conclusions.
Issues in the Galand-Chossudovsky report
The report states that its sources are the Ministries of Planning and Finance, the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) and the World Bank. Using that information, the authors recreated the import flows by product type and year.
The report presented to Rwandan authorities in 1996, publicised their findings that:
According to BNR data, huge quantities of machetes were imported as of 1992 from China…[and that] between 1992 and 1994, 581,000 kg of machetes were imported.
Appendices to the report mostly consist of summary tables created by the authors.
One of these is the “Summary table 1991/1994 - Importers” (hereafter called the “Importers” table), which lists 18 importers and dozens of commercial operations. It covers the period between 1991 and 1994.
Strangely, no purchases were recorded in 1991 and 1992, and very few for 1994. Eleven entries for “billhooks and machetes”, ordered by ten importers, do come to a total of 581 tonnes. The biggest importer was La Trouvaille (a trader), with 288 tonnes (50% of the net weight), followed by Félicien Kabuga with 96 tonnes (16%).
Based on these statistics, the authors drew a link between machete imports and genocidal intent. They wrote that “there was an enormous amount of imports in 1993” and that “the year 1993 was of key importance in the intensive preparation efforts for the genocide”. It’s important to note that the report didn’t compare this figure to machete imports in previous years.
Yet the data used for the analysis is not reliable. For example, the “Importers” table lists 17 operations for “shovels and spades” for between 2 and 2.5 million FRW (between about US$15,000 and US$19,000) per 10 tonnes. But one of the 1993 imports of 108 tonnes is billed at 2.45 million FRW (about US$19,000) – that is, ten times cheaper than the others. It seems highly likely that there is a typographical error in the table. These errors skew totals and the conclusions that are drawn from them.
What’s more, as we mentioned earlier, there are no entries in the 1991 and 1992 columns. The authors write that, in these two years, “no machetes or other agricultural supplies were imported”. It seems extremely unlikely that, for a period of 18 months, not a single piece of farm equipment was imported into Rwanda.
In addition, there are gaps in the information presented. For instance, the authors mention imports in the second half of 1992, which do not appear in the summary table. And the missing import flows for several years in the summaries mean that any unusual operations cannot be identified.
Without this information, it is difficult to hypothesise about the planning of the genocide.
Furthermore, the “Importers” table is contradicted by a table titled “Definitive imports by price heading 1991/1994. Summary table” (hereafter called the “Definitive” table). This table features a list of imports over four years with their net weight (in kilograms) and value (in Rwandan francs). It gives a total of 366 tonnes of machetes imported from 1991 to 1994, that is, 215 tonnes less than the “accepted” total.
How can we account for that difference?
We have two hypotheses:
The figure is inflated as not all listed machetes actually made it to Rwanda. The “Importers” table lists businesses with an import licence, which does not necessarily mean that the operation was completed. If operations were planned but not brought to completion they should be subtracted from the 581 tonnes of machetes. The “Definitive” table appears to feature only finalised commercial operations, giving a better idea of the actual imports during that period. For machetes as well as other products, it shows a relatively stable import market between 1991 and 1994.
Hidden military imports were counted as agricultural tools. The report specifies that “many so-called non-military imports were actually disguised military imports”. For instance, machetes purchased as agricultural supplies. But a choice must be made: the same commercial transaction cannot be both a hidden purchase of military equipment and a declared purchase of machetes, whether in preparation for the genocide or not.
As well as the Galand-Chossudovsky report, other documents relating to machete imports are available. This allows us to test the reliability of the “Importers” table.
One of these documents is a file from a Kenyan transporter who delivered about 26 tonnes of machetes to Félicien Kabuga. This was published in a report by Alison Desforges for the International Federation for Human Rights. The operation does not appear in the “Importers” table, though there are two import licences for 48 tonnes in Kabuga’s name.
Another document describes a delivery of 19,200 machetes in 1992 which was flown from Tianjin to Kigali, via Kenya. These were ordered by importer Tatien Kayijuka. With an average weight of 600g per machete, these 19,200 machetes would have weighed around 11.52 tonnes.
Because the “Importers” table didn’t show any imports in 1992, two scenarios are possible:
There is a transaction of 11.52 tonnes of machetes in 1993. So perhaps it was listed in 1993.
There were two separate transactions, meaning Kayijuka imported machetes as part of yearly routine commercial activity. In this case, the “Importers” table is inaccurate in not reporting imports in 1992.
These documented imports weaken the credibility of the “Importers” table used by the authors of the report. But, they support the data in the “Definitive” table, which shows regular and almost identical imports between 1992 and 1993.
The machete data used in the Galand-Chossudovsky report is, therefore, incomplete, inaccurate and unreliable.
Furthermore, with the statements that “the year 1993 was of key importance in the intensive preparation efforts for the genocide” and that “nearly all Rwandan economic operators imported machetes in 1993”, the authors infer a plan that is not backed up by the data. Given that the described increase of machete imports remains unproven, and nothing in the report indicates the intent of planning the genocide, the report’s conclusion misuses the evidence.
This article was written in collaboration with Roland Tissot, a member of the Platform on Violence and Exiting Violence at Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.
Translated from French by Rosie Marsland for Fast ForWord
Félicen Kabuga, the Hutu financier of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, has been captured after 26 years in hiding. More than 800,000 Rwandans, primarily Tutsis, were slaughtered by their countrymen in 100 days of genocide.
Kabuga was arrested by French police in a sting operation in a suburb of Paris on May 17. They were acting on an indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997. Despite a global arrest warrant accompanied by a $5 million bounty, Kabuga avoided authorities for 26 years.
He owned and operated Radio Mille Collines, which broadcast messages of hatred. This included the notorious command to “kill the cockroaches” before and during the genocide. He allegedly imported and distributed the hundreds of thousands of machetes that were instruments of the genocide.
Despite the arrest, there are a number of reasons that Kabuga’s case does not represent a simple triumph for justice.
First, the long anticipated trial that would shed light on how Rwanda’s genocide was organised may not come to pass. Kabuga is at least 84 years old. There is already a fight heating up about where he should be tried: France, Tanzania, or Rwanda. After this question has been resolved, we should expect that his attorneys will argue he is too frail to stand trial. Thus Kabuga’s advanced age and the slow speed of international justice mean that he may never see trial.
Second, his arrest revisits the contested success of transitional justice in Rwanda, and showcases the mixed record of international justice more generally.
The legacy of a tribunal
Based in Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up in 1994. It operated until 2015. It indicted 93 individuals, and heard 55 cases. Since its closure, outstanding work and cases are handled by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Trials, which has branches in The Hague and Arusha. It handles only ongoing cases or outstanding warrants, and has no power to bring new indictments.
In addition to these standard criticisms, during its working lifetime the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda faced multiple corruption allegations.
Kabuga was one of nine indicted individuals long at large, an ongoing reminder of the limitations of international criminal justice. Lacking their own police force, international courts rely on the cooperation of states to produce wanted individuals.
In Kabuga’s case, the capture was made possible by the investigative work of a special French office that pursues violators of international criminal law.
That the French followed up on this 26-year-old, cold, indictment is significant. International cooperation and institutional validation can have useful spillover effects for other international criminal justice institutions, specifically the International Criminal Court. It has struggled massively to convince member states to enforce its warrants.
Kabuga’s arrest, and the international cooperation that brought it about, is a reminder of the promise, and premise, that underwrote the tribunal. His alleged participation in the Rwandan genocide is the type of criminality that international justice seeks to prosecute: leaders and enablers who have not personally committed atrocity, but who were central to its deadly reach.
Kabuga’s arrest is thus also a victory against impunity. His trial should reiterate an insistence on rule of law norms making violations of international criminal law prosecutable.
Rwanda’s contentious transitional process
Accountability for international crime is a central component of “transitional justice”. This is a policy designed to substitute liberal, rule of law values in place of ethnic, nationalist, authoritarian or murderous rule.
In the case of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, “reconciliation” was embedded in the UN Resolution setting it up.
But Rwandan President Paul Kagame has rejected this model of transitional justice. Instead, a firm line is drawn between Tutsis, the victims of the genocide, and Hutus, the perpetrators of the genocide. This erases many facts, such as moderate Hutu victimisation or Tutsi-organised crimes.
Attempts to address facts outside of those officially sanctioned are decisively suppressed by the state. This has included imprisonment and assassination.
One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s biggest failures was arguably its inability to challenge Kagame’s ethnically divisive narrative.
In the first years of its work, prosecutors began investigating crimes associated with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Tutsi forces led by Kagame. In retaliation, Kagame stopped cooperating with the court and had its prosecutor, Carle del Ponte, removed. No RPF members, or Tutsis, were ever indicted by the tribunal.
Kagame is often praised for his stewardship over Rwanda’s economic recovery. Increasingly, however, observers speculate that his authoritarianism will interrupt this economic success. More worryingly, scholars in the area fear that Kagame’s ethnicity-based governance risks future repetitions of cyclical ethnic violence in Rwanda.
Insistence on rule of law norms
In the wake of Kabuga’s arrest, some international criminal justice scholars have supported Rwanda’s call to have him tried in the country, instead of sending him to the tribunal in Arusha.
This call should be resisted.
Present-day Rwanda is a country in which opposition figures die – in jail or otherwise – with alarming regularity. International institutions as well as state governments should demand higher rule of law standards, particularly in a country that has been the recipient of sustained, multifaceted international assistance.
All taxi motos operating in Kigali will from June 1, use only cashless payment platforms when charging their clients, according to Rwanda UtilitiesRegulatory Authority (RURA).
This is part of the efforts to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 throug cash handling.
With taxi motos expected to resume operations on June 1, after they were temporarily suspended to curb the pandemic, RURA has issued a new set of guidelines on operations in the sector.
Operators and their clients have an option from the two telcos providing mobile money payment platforms, MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda and will rely on installed meters to determine the cost of trips.
This is also in line with government plans to transform payment systems for taxi moto operators to cashless which was to be executed in the first half of this year after the postponement of from a deadline previously set at July 2019.
The development is part of the national motorcycle transport strategy to introduce a cashless based payment system for taxi-moto operators building on the success of "Tap-and-go" payment system, which is deployed on public commuter buses in Kigali.
Firms such as Yego Moto, Pascal Technology, and Mara Phone had already commenced rolling out the technology.
The new cashless payment system will see the 146 moto co-operatives across the country equip their fleet with GPS-enabled devices that calculate distance covered and the fare which will allow regulation of prices.
This could also reduce the common haggling for fares between taxi-moto riders and passengers often blamed for overcharging trips.
The development could further edge the country towards its cashless ambitions owing to the popularity of the mode of transport and frequency of use.
Only motorcyclists operating in provinces are exempted from meters for now but are expected to use cashless payment for trips.
As was the case prior to halting their operations, passengers will be required to have a piece of cloth to wrap their heads before putting on a helmet to reduce physical contact with the protective gear which is shared by passengers.
RURA is also urging passengers who can afford their own helmets to procure them for use when using the common means of transport.
Maintenance of hygiene measures such as sanitizing hands and helmets were also highlighted in the RURA directive as well as social distancing in parking locations. Face masks also remain mandatory for both passengers and riders.
Resumption of moto operations is expected to greatly improve transport operations across the city with the means is largely preferred for its convenience, flexibility and affordability in comparison to cabs.
With moto operators soon to resume work, about 1,000 of them have been tested for Covid-19 as the baseline, in a move government says is to ensure there is no vulnerability.
Credit: New Times
But with coffee shops closing worldwide, the coronavirus crisis is testing Rwanda’s top export.
COVID-19 and coffee in Rwanda
Rwanda appears to have been successful in keeping COVID-19 at bay so far. The Central African country of 12 million reported just over 250 cases as of early May.
In March the government locked down the capital of Kigali, halted commercial flights and banned domestic travel for all nonessential workers. Coffee production, which provides an income to 350,000 Rwandan farming families, has been allowed to continue – in modified fashion.
To analyze the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on Rwanda’s coffee industry, we drew on information from our five-year research project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and interviewed local collaborators and international industry experts.
As a critical sector of the Rwandan economy, coffee is a sensitive topic in the country, so our contacts in Rwanda preferred to speak anonymously. The quotes included here are drawn from our interview notes and their accuracy checked with our sources.
Our analysis finds that health restrictions are increasing coffee production costs in Rwanda and introducing delays to the global supply chain that consumers halfway across the world may eventually feel.
Open but restricted
Rwandan coffee farmers must adhere to social distancing guidelines during the May harvest, keeping coffee pickers one meter apart. As a result, according to two Rwandan coffee sector experts who work with farmers, they are hiring fewer workers. That may increase the time it takes to pick the same acreage.
Since not all workers in the coffee sector are considered essential, Rwanda’s strict travel restrictions are also slowing coffee’s journey from farm to cup.
“I cannot even legally drive out to our roastery, even though it is just a few kilometers away,” the manager of one Rwandan coffee roasting facility told us.
To avoid contact between buyers and farmers, some processing mills – which prepare fresh coffee beans, or “cherries,” for export and roasting by removing the skin and pulp – are asking farmers to deliver their harvest themselves, rather than send trucks for pickup.
Few farmers in Rwanda own cars or motorcycles – less than 3%, based on our research. So they must deliver their coffee on foot, traveling on average 3.5 miles. A round trip that normally takes minutes may now take two hours.
Once the coffee reaches the mill, hurdles to processing arise.
“My company has two agents who are allowed to travel to mills to oversee operations, but they must be tested for COVID-19” at police checkpoints when entering a new district, a Rwandan coffee buyer told us.
Sorting and milling of coffee is also likely to take substantially longer due to decreased staffing in compliance with social distancing regulations.
To keep on-site workers safe, mills are setting up hand washing stations and distributing hand sanitizer, but many are struggling to get required protective equipment like face masks, which have surged in price due to increased demand.
Global production disruptions
“We are preventing the economic activity that can reactivate the economy of coffee-producing regions,” warned Roberto Vélez Vallejo of Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers – which sells coffee under the brand Juan Valdez – via Tweet.
To overcome such challenges, Rwanda’s coffee farmers are turning to mobile technology.
Despite pervasive poverty, many Rwandan coffee farmers own mobile phones, and the country has worked hard to build a robust mobile network even in rural areas. That’s a critical resource right now, since the Rwandan government has mandated that payments between coffee mills and farmers be cashless.
Rwandan coffee farmers are also benefiting from being highly organized. The country has many agricultural cooperatives, which in normal times meet in person, provide direct services and help farmers negotiate collectively with buyers.
Now, co-op leaders are using text messaging to share information about coffee prices, social distancing protocols and other coronavirus-related topics with members.
Neither technology nor unions can solve what is perhaps the biggest problem facing Rwandan coffee’s industry: a global coffee market in upheaval.
Across the United States and Europe – which together import over 60% of the world’s coffee – COVID-19 containment measures have shut down cafes, shifting where demand is located.
In the U.S., which has a US$47.5 billion coffee shop industry, about a quarter of coffee consumption normally takes place away from home. Recently, this figure has come close to zero.
To serve coffee drinkers stuck at home, roasters must pivot to online and grocery sales – a difficult transition, especially for small players competing with chains like Starbucks.
International uncertainty is trickling down to Rwandan farmers in the form of broken contracts. One major Rwandan coffee exporter told us several buyers had either reduced or delayed finalizing their planned purchases.
Ruth Church, of the U.S.-based Artisan Coffee Importers, which specializes in Rwandan coffee, said she worried her clients would reduce orders too, but has since gotten confirmation that they will maintain last year’s purchasing levels.
“That comes from the relationship they’ve been able to form with the farmer,” she said of her buyers. “They know producers are vulnerable.”
But, Church warned, “Others may be forced to cancel or reduce.”
Rwandan coffee is adapting to get coffee to market. Now they hope someone will buy it.
Bridget Vuguziga, an independent consultant based in Kigali, Rwanda, contributed to this analysis.
[You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can get our highlights each weekend.]
Andrew Gerard, Research Assistant, Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University and David L. Ortega, Associate Professor of Food and Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University
Rwanda's economy is expected to grow by 8% this year and in 2021 versus an estimated 8.5% in 2019, boosted by private investment and trade, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.
The small East African nation's economy relies largely on agriculture, tourism and mining. The government also forecasts it will grow 8.5% in 2019.
It grew 11.9% in third quarter versus 7.7% in the third quarter of 2018, reflecting an improved performance in manufacturing, construction and services.
"Upside risks (to growth) are a continuation of strong private investment, more regional trade, and growth payoffs from large public investment projects," the IMF said.
Factors that could slow growth include high fuel prices, unpredictable weather and regional issues, the IMF said in a statement late on Friday.
It did not elaborate on those regional issues.
Early last year, Rwanda closed its main border crossing with neighbouring Uganda. It was briefly re-opened to cargo trucks in June but then closed again.
Rwandans were banned from travelling to Uganda, which has accused Rwanda of effectively imposing a trade embargo.
In August, the two countries' presidents signed a pact agreeing the two sides would respect each other's sovereignty, refrain from action that destabilises the other's territory, and resume cross-border activities.
The Rwandan Cabinet has approved an agreement with Russia to advance the use of nuclear energy for "peaceful purposes," a move that is expected to bolster relations between the two countries and advance the latter's interests in the region.
This comes ahead of the first Russia-African Forum next week in the city of Sochi, which President Paul Kagame has confirmed attendance, accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials.
The nuclear power deal was first signed in Moscow last December and will see Russian scientists set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Kigali.
The deal was boosted in May when a Russian government nuclear parastatal, Rosatom Global, reached an agreement to set up the nuclear plant by 2024--that the government says will help in the advancement of technology in agriculture, energy production and environment protection.
It has signed similar co-operation agreements with Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania even as questions over the appropriateness of the technology loom large.
In June Rwanda commenced negotiations to purchase Russian missile defense systems, as reported by the Russian press, as well as signed agreements to develop a military simulation and training centre in Kigali.
The trade and political relationship between Rwanda and Russia has steadily grown over the years as the European country seeks to compete with the US, China and Western Europe for trade and political influence in Africa.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, met top Russian politicians in Moscow early this year, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as investors to discuss further trade partnerships.
Ms Hakuzumeremyi said she invited more Russian investors to explore what Rwanda has to offer.
"We want to deal with countries on equal footing, and we consider Russia one of the countries willing and eager to pursue that path," Ms Hakuziyaremye said.
The EastAfrican reached out to the Russian officials, who said they had also negotiated agreements with different institutions including the Rwanda Development Board, Kigali Military Hospital and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Rwanda's imports from Russia--mainly cereals, machinery, fertilisers, iron, and steel--increased from $20 million worth in 2017 to $31 million worth in 2018, according to Russia's Export Centre data.
Exports to Russia--mainly agricultural products--however, remained a paltry $3.6 million worth, an increase from $2.4 million worth from 2017, which is a big negative balance of payment that Rwanda hopes to reverse.
The Putin regime also provides aid to Rwanda amounting to $3.5m per year, mainly towards energy development.
The two countries' military forces co-operate in training and exchange of information through a commission that was set up in 2017.
Russia's exports to the East African Community increased from $439.8 million in 2017 to $500 million in 2018, coinciding with a new larger plan by President Putin to restore Russia's status as a great power.
Kenya is Russia's biggest trade partner in the EAC, followed by Tanzania, with main imports being chemicals, arms, and machinery.
Source: East African
Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has said it has arrested about eight top Government officials over misuse of public funds.
Jérôme Gasana, the former Director-General of the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) tops the list along with others from different institutions.
Three more officials from WDA were arrested alongside Gasana, RIB said. This includes the former Project Coordinator, the officer in charge of Human Resources Management, and the former Director in Charge of Administration and Finance.
The Administration and Finance Units mainly are tasked with coordination of the development, execution and monitoring of budgets.
According to the investigation bureau, the head of the Investment Department and the Human Resource Officer at Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) were also arrested
This is in addition to two officials from the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) - the former Director of Administration and Finance as well as the head of Logistics and Administration.
"Investigations continue in other public institutions where public funds were misused/embezzled as mentioned in the AG report to establish criminal responsibilities for suspects to face justice and embezzled public funds be recovered in accordance with the law," RIB said in a tweet on Saturday.
For many years, the Auditor General's (AG) report has pointed out the misuse of public funds as one of the dominant issues faced by public institutions.
According to the latest audits released by the Auditor General, earlier this year, public institutions were characterised by irregular expenditure in form of unsupported expenditure, partially supported expenditure, wasteful expenditure, unauthorised expenditure and funds diverted or fraudulently utilised.
All that amounted to $6.2million.
Such audits have in the past identified cross-cutting issues such as cases of delayed and abandoned contracts, stalled projects, continuing cases of idle assets, failure to recover advance payment and performance securities, as well as non-compliance with taxation laws.
WASAC, RSSB and the Energy, Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), are some of the institutions that have been faulted in these annual reports several times.
Despite this, little efforts have been directed towards bringing such officials to account for such cases. This ostensibly shows renewed efforts to bring public officials to face accountability.
President Paul Kagame has personally been a strong advocate of accountability and the efficient use of public resources.
Earlier this year in the Southern Province, he alluded to the need for accountability for leaders to deliver on their responsibilities.
The Head of State at the time expressed concern on accountability and proper use of state resources meant for citizen welfare.
"When you know you have the necessary, in this case, a budget of $132million, that money cannot just disappear, and year after year nothing has changed or improved. How can you explain this? We need to be showing the impact and change that amount has created. We cannot be like the ones who use a sieve to carry water. We have the ability to think, to do the work," he said.
Source: New Times