by Frank Kanyesigye, Lyu Tianran and James Gashumba
KIGALI, March 25 (Xinhua) — Rwandan experts have said that Rwanda needs financial support such as grants and soft loans to support its economic transfromation, a priority in the government’s 7-year National Strategy for Transformation, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rwandan economy like other economies in the world have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as several economic activities came to standstill, most especially during lockdowns imposed to contain further spread of the virus, and sectors like tourism, transport, manufacturing, services and retail trade in the central African nation were disrupted by the pandemic, Rwandan economist Teddy Kaberuka told Xinhua.
Growth of trade in goods and services declined due to restrictions in cross-border movements, with travel restrictions, suspension of air travel and hotels operation, said Kaberuka, adding that travel and tourism became one of the most affected sectors since the onset of the outbreak of the pandemic.
Speaking of the foreign cooperation Rwanda needs towards achieving the economic transformation priorities while facing COVID-19 impacts, the economist highlighted the financial support to finance sectors affected by the pandemic and the government’s Economic Recovery Fund aimed at supporting businesses hit hard in the pandemic.
“I think Rwanda should mobilize funds both locally and internationally to finance this fund in order to help the economy recover from the shocks of the global pandemic,” said Kaberuka, who emphasized the importance of global cooperation in ensuring medical supplies and reviving development projects amid the COVID-19 impacts.
Ismael Buchanan, senior lecturer at Department of Political Science at the University of Rwanda, held a similar view in an interview with Xinhua, saying Rwanda needs stimulus package from development partners and foreign governments through bilateral cooperation, most especially in areas of financial grants and soft loans to address the effects COVID-19 had on the economy.
Both the experts commended developments in agricultural cooperation between China and Rwanda during the pandemic, which saw live-streaming promotion of Rwandan coffee in China and the signing of a protocol that allows Rwanda to export dried chilies that meet inspection and quarantine requirements to China, saying these will improve Rwandan farmers’ lives and incomes.
Exports development is one of the Rwandan government priorities to ensure strong economic growth, attract foreign exchange and boost productivity of exporting sectors across all value chains, said Buchanan.
According to Kaberuka, promoting and diversifying agricultural exports will not only help farmers offset the negative impacts from the pandemic, but also generate export revenues for Rwanda and hence economic transformation during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Enditem