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Empowering Rwandan Women through ICT

Rwanda celebrates the International Year for Micro Credits

UNCDF Launches $7 Million Project to Support Community Development in Rwanda

A delegation of the United Nations Security Council visits Rwanda, Sunday 21 November, 2004The Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa visits Rwanda, 10 - 14, August 2004

Empowering Rwandan Women through ICT Top

Sustained political instability and the 1994 genocide left deep scars on the women of Rwanda. Despite an enabling policy environment and an unprecedented almost 50% representation in Parliament, Rwandese women continue to be affected by poverty, lack of access to resources, and gender inequities that exclude them from opportunities to improve their livelihoods and their rights.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a field that is becoming increasingly accepted and relied upon in Rwanda and indeed in Africa as a whole, as a crucial means towards social and economic development. This is an area however, where women and girls are at particular risk of exclusion from potential opportunities, because of poverty, illiteracy, insufficient access to education and training and insufficient time as a result of their multiple roles in families and communities. In addition, in many cultures, women are considered less capable of understanding and operating technologies, or of successfully engaging in science, math and technology.

UNDP and UNIFEM have begun working together in Rwanda to open up access to ICTs for women and girls, and to empower them through the use of ICTs, to improve their social and economic rights and build a more secure economic future for themselves and their families. With funding from the Japan Women in Development Fund, UNDP and UNIFEM are collaborating to build on the strong political commitment of the Rwandan government to using ICTs for development and the promotion of gender equality.


The Rwanda project is part of UNIFEM’s initiative “Bridging the Gender Digital Divide in Africa Through Strategic Partnerships”, which leverages the knowledge, expertise and resources of the African “Digital Diaspora” to contribute to the eradication of feminized poverty in Africa through ICT. The initiative is guided by a Global Advisory Committee comprised mainly of African ICT entrepreneurs and ICT experts from the Diaspora, and is developing a roster of African Diaspora ICT experts who are willing to participate in ICT women’s empowerment projects in Africa. The Committee provides overall guidance to the initiative, advice on the development of innovative funding arrangements and resource mobilization, as well as participates and invests in country initiatives designed to empower African women through ICT.

“If there is a digital divide, then we, gathered here, are the bridge and together can and will propel Africa to the forefront of the digital economy.” - Ms. Rebecca Enonchong CEO, AppsTech Member, Global Advisory Committee Africa Launch of DDI Initiative - May 2003

As the first pilot project of the Digital Diaspora initiative, the Rwanda project is using the technical and market knowledge of Africans in the Diaspora to build the capacity of women’s business-oriented organisations to use ICTs to promote business linkages and influence policy-making, in order to situate women’s issues and concerns at the centre of efforts to reduce poverty.

Implemented by the Kigali Institute of Science, Research and Technology (KIST), in collaboration with experts from the Diaspora, project activities for women’s associations have ranged from basic IT training to more complex skills-building such as web design, e-commerce and management information systems, and other technical knowledge beneficial to developing entrepreneurship among Rwandan women. The project also supports network building between NGOs, local private sector firms, African Diaspora entrepreneurs and experts, and the international ICT sector.

Members of women’s business-related associations and local women entrepreneurs received their first advanced training from Pity Wachuka Warungu, a US-based Kenyan web design expert, Lamine Sano, an e-commerce expert from Ivory Coast based in the US, and Brian Thompson, a Rwandan MIS expert also based in the US. Training, which included classroom activities as well as on-the-job work, showed women how to design their websites, register the domains and host their associations on their websites. They also acquired skills on how to sponsor links and network with other women’s groups and commercial websites.

Designing their own websites, especially with e-commerce features, was particularly popular with the women. They were excited by the prospect of being able to create websites, which could display products and services, and were eager to learn how to market such sites to reach clients and buyers beyond Rwanda’s borders.

Domitille Mukasonga, from Duterimbere association, a local Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship was one of the participants of the training session on web design. “By its completion, I was ready to work on our association’s website. Judging from what the website design and Internet program entailed, we can now check out what other women’s associations are doing in the field of women’s empowerment and build partnerships to best market women’s products through the Internet,” she said.

Another participant, Odette Uwambaye, a member of Ndabaga, a female ex-combatants association, described the training as ‘a channel to more advanced business’. “The program is just what I needed. Now I can seek for partners all over the world. We are also interested in developing partnerships with Kenyan women because they are far ahead of us in the field of ICT for economic empowerment.”


In the context of the project, UNDP and UNIFEM have also organised awareness rising
activities aimed at educating different sectors on the ICT issues faced by local women entrepreneurs, and sharing knowledge on ICT strategies to boost women’s economic security. This has led to a dynamic environment of cooperation, and created opportunities for partnerships between women’s organizations, local ICT companies and public institutions working on ICT in the country, such as KIST, the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA), and the Ministry of Communication.

ICT further enables the bridging of north/south divide as well as the gender divide and encourages foreign direct investment in Rwanda” - Mr. Juma Okech, Director of the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA)

Some unexpected outcomes have also developed from the implementation of the project, which could play an important role in ensuring the longer-term impact and sustainability of the initiative.

For example, UNIFEM, UNDP and KIST are currently exploring concrete opportunities to
create ICT training, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for women, by linking the beneficiary women’s groups to the local private sector, which has grown interested in investing in the ICT activities under the project. “Supporting women in ICT is doing business” said Mr. Eugene Nyagahene, CEO of TELE-10, referring to the economic contribution that female ICT users make to the development of the national ICT sector, including as mobile phone subscribers, as owners of newly-established ICT kiosks, and potentially as ICT-enabled commercial businesses.

In creating business linkages to benefit women entrepreneurs, the project is looking, as planned, far beyond Rwanda, to the international business expertise of Africans in the Diaspora, and the international private sector. An International Business Mentoring Committee is being set up to support innovative initiatives linking women’s associations with foreign markets and investors. An example is a partnership between KIST, RITA, RwandaTel, the Ministry of Gender and the Ministry of Communications, to scale up through ICTs the activities of AVEGA, the association of widows of the genocide. AVEGA is already acting as focal point for many Rwandan women producers of local crafts, some of which have been sold on the international market through intermediary organizations (http://www.bpeace.com/projprog_rwanda.php).

The export activities of AVEGA and other similar associations can be up scaled up through ICT and e-commerce, to reach the US and European markets, in partnership with local artisan cooperatives, African Diaspora associations, foreign businesses and fair-trade networks. The ultimate vision of the project is to create a model of successful e-commerce and online marketing for local women, which can serve as a case study to boost the policy changes and investments needed in Rwanda’s own path towards an ICT-enabled economy for poverty reduction. In so doing, the project will put women at the forefront of ICT for development in Rwanda, and strengthen their contributio

Rwanda celebrates the International Year for Micro Credits Top

Recently, Rwanda launched the International Year for Micro Credits in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme and the Harvard school of Business.

In this ceremony attended by various personalities including government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and UN Agencies and Private sector representatives, all speakers stressed the importance of micro finance as a tool to help developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals. “Access to financial services is indeed a critical prerequisite for economic growth and for the promotion of the private sector as an engine for development”, said Mr. Alain Noudéhou, UNDP Country Programme Director and Resident Representative ad interim of the UNDP at the lunching ceremony. The informal sector in developing countries has proved to pray a major role in the national economic performance. By availing micro credit to the poor, the nations will have made a step towards achieving the millennium development goals and most especially the very first goal that is halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. “Poor families are able to do savings, if existing mechanisms are them to do so”, said the message delivered by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

The International Year of Micro Credit was launched New York 0n 18 November by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with the representatives of the private sector, UN agencies, government representatives, micro finance institutions and non government institutions.

In Rwanda, more than 500, 000 people have beneficiated from micro credits and many have seen their life style tremendously changed. Some local Micro finance institutions and some citizens used well micro credits received awards from the Minister of Finance, representing H.E President Kagame, the president of the Republic of Rwanda at the ceremony. Women associations are among the people that beneficiated from the micro credits. This new opportunity did not only help them sustain their living, but also empowered them that some have been elevated to some decision making positions at the district levels.

However, thousands of families are still leaving under the poverty line and the difference might just lie in accessing a small credit. “ The international year of micro credit provides us all with an excellent opportunity to re-examine our development focus, most importantly, to bring back our clients-the poor and the underserved population –into main stream of our development activities” Mr. Noudehou told the audience, reminding development partners of the magnitude of the work that remains to be done.

Rwanda is among the 8 countries that have been selected to launch the international year of micro credit. The other countries are Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Mozambique.

UNCDF Launches $7 Million Project to Support Community Development in Rwanda Top

12 November 2004: The United Nations Capital Development Fund has launched a new programme in Rwanda to promote sustainable local development and improve access to basic infrastructure and services. The $7.25 million programme, called Support to Community Development Project in Byumba, is supported by the Belgian Ministry for Cooperation and Development, the UN Development Programme and the Government of Rwanda. Read more

A delegation of the United Nations Security Council visits Rwanda Top

Sunday, 21 November 2004: United Nations Security Council (15 ambassadors) delegation lead by the French Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Jean Marc de la Sablière visited Rwanda as part of their tour in the Great Lakes Region.

Upon their arrival at the International Airport of Kigali, Mr. de la Sablière informed the press that he was visiting the Great Region to hold talks with the leaders of the countries on peace and security in the region.

After a meeting with the ambassadors of countries members of the UN Security Council, the delegation later in the day met with the President of the Republic of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame. They discussed various issues related to security in the region and most especially in the East of DRC.

In a press briefing following their meeting the president, the Head of the UN Security Council delegation declared that all parties are willing to peacefully disarm and repatriate the Ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia fighting in the DRC. MONUC should assist but it is on the basis of voluntary disarmament and we will see if it will work now that there is willingness from the government of DRC and the possibility for MONUC which has been reinforced to assist, he told the press.

The delegation later left for Kinshasa where they will meet the president of DRC.

The Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa visits Rwanda, 10 - 14, August 2004 Top

The Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, will visit Rwanda from 10 to 14 August 2004. The visit of this high official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda is in the framework of the cooperation between the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa and the African Nations, and most especially in the implementation of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Mr. Janneh is visiting Rwanda to liaise with the Government of Rwanda in the preparation of the upcoming Africa Governance Forum (AGF) meeting that will be held in Rwanda in December this year. The AGF is a joint UNDP and ECA initiative that was launched in 1997 and its 6th Session that was originally scheduled last year is now planned to take place in Kigali this year on the theme “NEPAD: Implementing the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)”. The UNDP has been designated co-convener by the NEPAD Heads of States and Governments of the Implementation Committee (HSGIC).

UNDP Africa is supporting the transition from the OAU to the African Union and the operationalization of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a vision and strategic framework for Africa’s renewal.

It is expected that during his visit Mr. Janneh will meet with H.E. President Paul Kagame, Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, Speaker of Parliament Alfred Mukezamfura, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, Dr Charles Muligande and Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Donald Kaberuka. He will also have discussions with the Representatives of African Countries resident in Kigali, of donors countries and other development stakeholders. At the end of his visit, Mr Janneh will hold a joint press briefing together with Mr. Donald Kaberuka in his capacity as Chairman of the National Commission on APRM.

Mr Janneh has proved to be a champion in the development of Africa and the fight against HIV/AIDS. He is one among other figures that are behind the establishment of the Africa 2015 Initiative aimed at promoting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with at its center the fight against HIV/AIDS, for an AIDS free generation from the year 2015. Many people including famous Sports and Music figures as well as many African National Soccer Teams have pledged their support to the Initiative.

Mr. Janneh has been Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA) since June 2000.

Mr. Zephirin Diabré, UNDP Associate Administrator's visit to Rwanda, May 11 -14, 2004 Top

Mr. Zéphirin Diabré, Associate administrator of the UNDP visited Rwanda from 11 to May 14, 2004. On his arrival at the airport of Kigali, he was welcomed by Mr. Macharia Kamau, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, accompanied by Hon. Manasseh Nshuti, Minister Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Cooperatives, Mr. Williams Nkurunziza, Director General of Rwanda Investment Promotion Agency (RIPA) as well as other senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Addressing the media on his arrival, Mr. Diabré said that his visit lies within the scope of co-operation between the UNDP and the Government of Rwanda and the federation of the private sector. In Rwanda, the UNDP intervenes in the fields of the democratic governance, economic management for poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood and environmental protection, gender and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

On his first day visit, Mr. Diabré visited the genocide memorial of Gisozi in the outskirts of Kigali, the site that has been transformed into a museum and where more than 250,000 victims of the genocide rest. Mr. Diabré was horrified by what he saw and the testimonies he heard and suggested that a documentary film on the Rwandan genocide be prepared so that even those who cannot come to Rwanda can be aware of the horror of genocide and he pledged UNDP support. The associate administrator put a wreath at the memorial site in respect of the victims that rest in that place.

After the Memorial Site, Mr. Diabré met with the minister of infrastructure, Mr. Jean Damascène Ntawukuriryayo, and their discussions related to the co-operation between the UNDP and the Government Rwanda in the area of sustainable development and most especially the area of resettlement in which UNDP has been involved to promote sustainable livelihood for the people of Rwanda. With the minister of infrastructure, Mr. Diabré visited the resettlement site of Kimironko, one of the UNDP funded projects handed over to the Government in April 2004. This area of Kimironko that lacked infrastructure 5 years ago is now viable and one of the most attractive areas of the city of Kigali. More than 22 kilometers of roads, 1600 plots were constructed and 100 houses built for vulnerable persons.

After a meeting with united nations agencies in Rwanda where Mr. Diabré discussed with the UN country team the cooperation between the UN agencies, the associate administrator paid a visit to the minister of commerce, industry, investment promotion, tourism and cooperatives. The directors general of RIPA and the Rwanda office of tourism and national parks accompanied the minister.

Their discussions focused on the co-operation between the Rwandan government and UNDP in support to the private sector. Mr. Diabré reaffirmed the commitment of UNDP to promote the private sector.

In the evening of the same day, there was a reception hosted by the UNDP Representative Resident in honor of Mr. Diabré, who travels with his assistant, Mr. Renaud Meyer. The reception was attended by a great number of members of government, heads of UN agencies and the donor community in Kigali.

Thursday, 13 May 2004 marked the start of the 2nd Conference on investment in Rwanda, and Mr. Diabré had the privilege to be the second speaker after the President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame. In his address, Mr. Diabré highlighted the reason why the development of investment is crucial for Africa and the world. For him, there can be no development without investment promotion in Africa. “This is a concern for UNDP, for which we see no hope of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa, if private investment is avoiding the continent”, he said, addressing participants from 27 countries around the world.

The same day, Mr. Diabré held discussions with Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Minister of finance and economic planning, the Rwandan Prime Minister, Honourable Bernard Makuza and with H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the republic of Rwanda.

In the evening of the second day of his visit, Mr. Diabré officially launched the report to the secretary general of the United Nations of the commission on the private sector and development titled “Unleashing Entrepreneurship – Making business work for the poor”

On the 3rd and last day of his visit, the Associate Administrator met with the Private Sector Federation in Rwanda where by they discussed the role of the private sector in the development process and the UNDP commitment to the promotion of the private sector.

After the meeting with the Federation of the Private Sector, Mr. Diabré paid a visit to the Speaker of the Parliament, Hon. Alfred Mukezamfura. They discussed on the cooperation between UNDP and the government of Rwanda and the Parliament in particular. UNDP has supported the Parliament in many areas including capacity building and Information Communications Technologies (ICTs). After their meeting, the speaker of parliament introduced Mr. Diabré to the Women Parliamentarians Forum. The Associate Administrator had fruitful discussions with the women parliamentarians and reiterated the UNDP commitment to the advancement of women.

The UNDP hands over Kimironko settlement site to the Government of Rwanda Top

Kigali, April 23, 2004: The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Center for Human Settlement have handed over to the Government of Rwanda some infrastructures that have put in place by a UNDP Resettlement project funded by Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

This project which was implemented by UNCHS/Habitat used a budget of US$ 10,114,747. Some of the activities undertaken by the project include the construction of 22 kilometers of road network and drainage system, demarcation of 1998 plots of which 1636 are distributed, 1289 completed, 1273 occupied.

Of the 116 hectares 5 hectares have been reserved for social facilities. Plots have been provided for a guardian school, two primary schools, one market, one health center and one playing ground.

The handing over of these infrastructures was honored by the Hon. Prime Minister, H.E. Bernard Makuza and the UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Ms Odette Murat, Representing the UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Macharia Kamau. Also present were the Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. Jean Damascène Ntawukuriryayo, the Prefect of Kibungo, the Secretaries of State in the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Environment protection and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Representatives of the Embassy of Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium, and other officials from the Government and private sector. Also present was the Representative of UN/Habitat, Mr. Joseph Guiebo.

In her circumstance remarks, Mrs. Odette Murat thanked the Government of Rwanda and the donors that have contributed to the success of the project. "The UNDP is pleased by this exemplary collaboration for which concrete results can be seen today", she said. She added that the UNDP will continue to support the Government of Rwanda in its efforts to attain sustainable development. In his statement, the Prime Minister, Hon. Bernard Makuza praised the UNDP and the donors for their efforts to support the Government of Rwanda. He called upon the local authorities and the population to take care of infrastructures and protect the environment. "This infrastructure we are receiving today has cost around 6 billion Rwandan francs which a lot of money but has helped to reduce the problem of shelter that the country is facing", he said. The Prime officially laid the first stone on the project site 4 years ago. The infrastructure of Kimironko was handed over to the Government at the same time as the resettlement sites of Ngoma in the town of Butare, the second in the country.

 

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