UN Resident Coordinator opening remarks on the occasion of the Opening of the Government of Rwanda and Development Partners Strategic Joint Planning Retreat, Rubavu, 8-9, November 2012
Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Planning,
Permanent Secretaries and Executive Secretaries,
Heads of Cooperation Agencies and Partners in Development,
Colleagues from the UN System,
Representatives of the Civil Society Organisations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to first say, Mwaramutse Mwese! (Good Morning to all of you) and Murakaza Neza (Welcome to you all)
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here today with you all in my capacity as the UN Resident Coordinator and DPCG Co-Chair on the occasion of this very important Retreat, the very first time I am participating in, and co-sharing, the Retreat. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank once more the Honourable Minister and the Development Partners for the confidence implied.
As I have noted on many other occasions, even before I arrived in Rwanda 8 weeks ago to assume my new functions, I had always been personally inspired by Rwanda’s proactive, dynamic and innovative approach to national development, poverty reduction and nurturing of durable stability. The country’s commendable record regarding the continuous enhancement of the quality of development cooperation also stands out in the Africa Region and it is inspiring an increasing number of Governmens in the continent. I, therefore, feel privileged to take up the role as the DPCG Co-Chair, and I wish to reiterate my deep personal commitment to support this important development coordination forum in order to further reinforce the productive development partnership that exists in the country.
In reading the One UN Rwanda 2011 Delivering As One Annual Report shortly after my arrival in the country, I was struck by the high level of policy implementation: 485 out of 504 agreed policies having been fully implemented, representing a 96% policy implementation rate, and that being achieved a full one year before the initially planned end of the EDPRSI implementation date. The tremendous positive effects of this strong commitment to policy implementation are reflected in the impressive development results realized, notably growth and poverty reduction but also in many governance and social development areas during the EDPRS I period. For us as development partners this further underscores one of the things the Rwanda Government is well-known for: doing exactly what it says it would do and being highly results-oriented.
It is therefore fitting to warmly congratulate at this stage the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul Kagame, his Government and all the people of Rwanda for the remarkable economic, political and social progress the country continued to make over the last five years.
But I have also been touched by the fact that each time we commend the Rwandan authorities for their strong leadership in formulating and implementing the country’s development and transformational strategies as well as for the impressive development results realized over the past 18 years, they always quickly acknowledge the important role played by the development partners in Rwanda’s recovery, reconstruction and the on-going transformation processes. This is also a clear indication that the country has been faithfully implementing the Paris Declaration with very positive results.
As President Kagame himself clearly puts it and I quote: “Where there has been real partnership, the results speak for themselves”. End of quote.
I am pleased to note that in the consultations I have had with all the development partners since my arrival here, I could only sense a high level of enthusiasm and commitment on their part to continue accompanying Rwanda as it plans to embark on yet another groundbreaking segment (encapsulated by EDPRSII) of its ambitious journey towards the realization of the goals of the Vision 2020 and full economic, social and political transformation. As you would all agree with me, mutual trust and whole-hearted consultations will have to remain at the heart of this exemplary partnership. The other important principle is of course the full and judicious exploitation of the comparative advantage, strengths and mandates of each of the partners in order to maximize our respective contributions. Joining the process at this stage, I am, therefore, very much encouraged to read in the Concept Note for this Retreat that “the elaboration of the EDPRS II (not only) builds on the EDPRS I review…, outcomes of the EICV and DHS detailed analyses, review of the Vision 2020 targets, but also on the consultations and dialogue through a number of national fora, including the Government of Rwanda and Development Partners Retreat, among others”.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This Strategic Joint Planning Retreat thus constitutes another important step towards reinforcing the very productive partnership between Rwanda and its development partners, who have not only proved their enduring faith in the country’s leadership and people, but also their willingness to accompany the country’s transformational journey with significant technical, human and financial resources. It is an opportunity to exchange ideas on a number of key issues and for the partners to make meaningful contributions to reinforcing both the strategic orientations and the planned foundational and sectoral interventions of EDPRS II.
I have no doubt that animated but useful discussions will follow in all the sessions following this Opening Segment, but allow me to make a few general remarks. In this regard, I wish to first note that the Development Partners wholeheartedly support Rwanda’s ambition to attain transformational development through, inter alia high rates of inclusive and sustainable growth accompanied by financial, social and political stability as well as environmental sustainability. To this end, we welcome the key strategic orientation of the EDPRS II which places emphasis on creation of transformation capacity for value-addition in productive sectors through dramatically shifting from factor-driven growth to efficiency and innovation-driven growth as well as through the expansion of the domestic revenue base.
In this context, we welcome the notion which is articulated in the thematic orientation of the EDPRS II that economic transformation is in fact impossible without robust and vibrant private sector and increased value-addition. The crucial role of the private sector needs to be facilitated through continuation and deepening of efforts to strengthen an enabling environment for private sector development, which would lead the way to increased domestic revenue generation and capital formation, thus facilitating reduction of aid dependence. It is for this reason that Rwanda’s continuing strong performance on the World Bank’s Doing Business scorecard is encouraging. But more needs to be done, and we look forward the discussions on how we could contribute to reinforcing the efforts of the Government in this connection.
Equitable and deepened regional integration also constitutes a key pre-condition for successful economic transformation in Rwanda. In this regard, we are indeed convinced that Rwanda could be East Africa’s centre of services and base for many manufacturing products because of its (i) competitive business environment, including adhesion to the rule of law; (ii) competent, hard- working, disciplined and responsive administration; (iii) highly qualified labour; (iv) cultural diversity and language proficiency; (v) very good quality of life, good supporting educational, health, hospitality and recreational facilities; and (vi) easy access and world-class ICT hub. This welcoming Rwanda could be the headquarters of insurance and law firms, banks and other financial services, film production companies, trading and forwarding companies, pharmaceuticals and IT innovators. Thus, how to move forward the agenda of regional integration over the EDPRS II implementation period is of high interest to us.
We also welcome the emphasis on sustainable urbanization, decent employment creation and equitable and quality service provision as some of the key drivers for economic and social transformational change. Equally, we welcome the explicit prioritization of youth employment and productivity, holistically looking at factors that contribute to the foundation of increasing productivity and employability.
As Rwanda looks ahead at achieving a modern and green economy through structural and social transformation, there is need for continuous adequate investment in human capital development, including the quality of basic education, early childhood development, equitable access to and provision of quality health services, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, among others. These on-going priorities are indispensable to building the foundations for transformational capacity, increasing productivity and building a vibrant economy, as clearly appreciated by the Government. It is for this reason that we also eagerly look forward to making our contributions to the discussions on the foundational issues.
Similarly, climate change and effective mechanisms to mitigate risks and strengthen resilience is of significant importance to sustainable development. Issues such as population growth, effective land management as well as water management are some of other topics that would merit further attention. As Development Partners, we look forward to deepen our dialogue on strategic issues that contribute to the social and economic transformation agenda, faster reduction of poverty, and human development and security.
Importantly also, we would like to reinforce the point made by the Government that “the reconstruction of the nation of Rwanda and its social capital, anchored on good governance and capable state is considered a minimal condition to stimulate a harmonious development of the other pillars”. I would in fact add that this pillar is indispensable to the transformation of the country’s economy and society. It is thus another crucial area of interest for the development partners and we look forward to deepening the discussions on the constituting elements of this component of EDPRS II as well.
In conclusion, as Development Partners, I wish to reiterate our commitment to the imperative to increasingly deliver “thinking” and “innovative ideas” that can contribute to Rwanda’s own citizen-centred strategy, as demanded by the President. It is our intention to fully seize the opportunities provided by this Retreat to actively contribute to the generation of innovative ideas that can inject fresh energy into the elaboration of the EDPRS II. ideas that should be taken to achieve Rwanda’s inclusive transformation agenda.
This Retreat also provides a useful platform to share perspectives on how development cooperation can contribute effectively to the national priorities as articulated in the EDPRS II, drawing on our comparative advantages. Thus, on behalf of the Development Partners, I would like to reiterate once more our commitment to the application of the principles of Division of Labour and look forward to discussing the practical steps for the joint planning processes..
I wish you all fruitful and constructive deliberations over the next two days.