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Rwanda authorities getting tough on transnational organized crime 

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwandan authorities said they had stepped up efforts to strengthen the country’s capacity in the fight against transnational organized crime.

Speaking at a meeting on fighting cross border crimes on Tuesday, Evode Uwizeyimana, Rwanda’s state minister for constitutional and legal affairs, said the country is reinforcing its security agencies to respond to cross-border crimes.

“We have ensured enhanced cooperation with other countries whereby the Rwanda police is in close collaboration with other neighboring security agencies to counter cross-border crimes and other organized crimes,” he added.

Uwizeyimana noted that Rwanda police, alert to the variety of cross-border criminal activities and the dangers they pose to national and regional security, have arrested smugglers and other criminals on different occasions.

Common transnational crimes Rwanda has faced include human trafficking, smuggling of arms, drugs and other illegal animal and plant products.

The one-day meeting chaired by Rwanda’s senate president Bernard Makuza sought stringent measures to strengthen Rwanda’s capacity of fighting transnational crimes.

The forum concurred that sharing of experiences, information and skills between Rwanda and the international community was critical in the effort to defeat cross-border crimes.

Morris Murigo, head of Criminal Investigation Department at the Rwanda National Police, said at the meeting that Rwanda police has strengthened prevention, crackdown and investigation of transnational organized crime.

“Last year organized cyber criminals attacked Rwanda’s banks targeting to steal 700,000 U.S. dollars but the  threat was repelled before accomplishing their mission,” he said.



Rwanda to introduce cable car to Karisimbi Volcano

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda is planning to install a cable car system to facilitate hikes to Karisimbi Volcano, the highest mountain in the country and the fifth in Africa at 4,507 meters above sea level.

The ambitious cable car plan seeks to improve access and boost tourism in Musanze district, Northern Province, known for its volcanic mountain and endangered mountain gorillas.

“A hike to Karisimbi’s summit is not an ordinary one. Someone needs relatively good health and stamina to hike through the slippery slopes to reach the summit which is white capped,” Belize Kaliza, chief tourism officer at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), told reporters Thursday.

She noted that the government is in contract negotiations with an Italian firm to build the cable car system.

The Karisimbi cable car project, second on the continent after that in Cape Town, South Africa, will offer unique features such as crater surfing via zip lines, according to RDB.

The cable car project is expected to cost 38 million U.S. dollars.

Rwanda’s tourism sector is one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the country.

RDB statistics indicate that in 2014 the country’s tourism industry registered revenue receipts worth 304.9 million dollars. The country hosted a total of about 1.22 million visitors in the same year.


Rwandan president highlights private sector role in digital connectivity at WE

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame Thursday highlighted the vital role of the private sector in national digital strategy development at the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

Appearing on a panel Thursday during an interactive session to debate on “Shaping a National Digital Strategy”, Kagame pointed out that although governments may play the pivotal role in integrating digital technology into policy, the private sector is inevitably needed as a partner in terms of innovation and investment.

Kagame assured that while Africa started from a low base it aims to move as fast as possible, with the understanding that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The panel aimed at discussing how national digital strategies unlock leapfrogging opportunities for countries.

“We focus on solutions and get rid of problems. Public-private partnership is vital in digital development with the understanding that connecting the unconnected is huge potential. If connected this large number will contribute to returns. As partners we have the opportunity to talk about good returns without having to be expensive, thereby inhibiting accessibility,” Kagame said.

The Rwandan leader explained that by integrating ICT in the national strategy and planning, Rwanda had registered a big leap between 2003 and 2016, where connectivity grew by 30 percent.

He said that there was a notable shift to investment that can touch people’s lives long term and will enable people to provide for themselves.

On correlation between national education systems and digital development, Kagame said national digital strategies must ensure that the education systems are streamlined so that the skills produced are in line with the needs for digital development.

The panel is moderated by Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Guests included Herman Gref, CEO and Chairman of the Board at Sberbank, Russia, Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation elect 2017 and Federal Councillor of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of Switzerland and Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group, United Kingdom.

Digitization and innovation in Africa is increasingly local and impact is evident across sectors such as banking, health, agriculture, transport and trade.


Rwanda prepares for Heroes’ Day

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has started preparations for this year’s National Heroes Day due on Feb. 1.

Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, chairman the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honor said Thursday that different activities are planned to mark the 23rd heroes anniversary.

These include heroism week to run from Jan 21 to 31 during which different activities such as public lectures will be delivered in schools and universities, a walk to remember the heroes, in Kigali and across the country.

There will also be a concert in tribute to national heroes, featuring the national ballet and other artists. The climax will be on Feb. 1 with a ceremony where government officials, living heroes and relatives of fallen heroes will lay wreaths at Heroes’ square in Remera, Kigali.

Celebrations will also be held at village levels.

Rwanda’s minister of Culture Julienne Uwacu called on Rwandans to embrace heroism.

“Everyone should endeavor to emulate those who achieved unmatched deeds and laid a strong foundation in rebuilding this country,” she told journalists.

“We are planning to establish a national museum of liberation war at Mulindi starting in the next fiscal year.”

As part of the celebrations, selected people who have played distinguished service in society will be recognized in all villages.

Rwanda’s national heroes are classified into three categories namely; Imanzi, Imena and Ingenzi.

Imanzi features achievers including those who sacrificed own lives such as Maj Gen Fred Rwigema, who died on the frontline a day after the launch of the liberation war and the ‘Unknown Soldier’ who represents all soldiers who lost their life fighting for Rwanda.

The second category, Imena, comprises heroes remembered for their extraordinary acts such as King Mutara III, former prime minister during genocide, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and Nyange Secondary School students while the last category Ingenzi includes heroes who are still alive.

Dr.  Habumuremyi, a former prime minister said the search for people to be included on the national heroes list is ongoing.

At least 35 people have already been vetted out of about 200 candidates under scrutiny. The final list will be approved by Cabinet.

The current list has 53 national heroes.


Kigali gears up for Chinese Spring Festival 

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The Rwandan capital Kigali is gearing up for this year’s Chinese Spring Festival celebration at Serena Hotel.

The two-day event to run from January 19 to 20 is jointly held by Rwanda’s Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Chinese Embassy in Rwanda.

Spring Festival is the most important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. People return home for family gathering.

The first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year 2017 falls on Jan. 28, initiating the year of the Rooster (based on the Chinese Zodiac, a classification scheme that assigns an animal to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle).

In an interview with Rwandan local media, the director of political section at Chinese Embassy in Kigali, Zhang Wenping, said this year’s Spring Festival will serve as another occasion for cultural exchange.

Zhang stressed that despite geographic distance, China and Rwanda share a lot in common which presents good opportunity for cooperation in various aspects including culture.

“Rwandan people and Chinese people are like-minded, the event will also be people-to-people interaction,” Zhang said.

Visitors to the festival on the first day will include common Rwandan citizens, government officials, foreign diplomats in Kigali, students among others.

While on the second day the event will be specifically for Chinese community in Rwanda.

She said for the second time a Chinese artistic delegation has been invited by the Chinese Embassy in Kigali, expected to put up a spectacular performance.

“Every year artistic delegations from different provinces are invited. Last year, Liaoning Province sent a delegation which gave a performance typically Northeast Style. While this year, the delegation is from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region which holds a long tradition for dancing and singing,” she said.

Hen Yusu, Secretary to Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda told the same local media that since as Xinjiang is in the North-West part of China, where minorities reside, this year’s performance will give visitors quite different impression from what they usually have in mind about Chinese people.

This year’s Spring Festival celebration covers various art forms such as comic dialogues, dancing, acrobatic show, short plays, pop music, traditional opera and Wushu show.

Urukerereza, the artistic treasure of Rwanda, will also be part of the celebration of the Spring Festival, according to Hen.

Urukerereza, a Rwandan dance troupe shows feature traditional Rwandan songs, drum beats and dance.


Rwanda to fine street hawkers, buyers in tidiness bid

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has tightened measures against street hawkers in the capital Kigali, after the vendors had continued to run their businesses in defiance of the ban.

Last year, the country issued a directive that permanently banned street vending and hawking within the Kigali city.

The city authority has blamed street hawking and buying for depriving pedestrians of their space, causing traffic jams and tax evasion.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Patricia Muhongerwa, the deputy mayor in charge of social affairs, said that those caught selling or buying on the streets will be fined and have their merchandise confiscated.

“We have sensitized hawkers about leaving street vending and find a permanent facility within in the business district area, but we are shocked to learn that they are still hawking on several streets within the city center,” she said.

Intended to curb untidiness and pollution, the penalty also targets offences like throwing dead animals on the street.

The order will affect many traders who have made careers out of selling goods on the streets and sidewalks, such as cigarettes, clothes and foodstuff.

Kigali city authorities estimate the number of street hawkers at around 6,000, who are involved in running battles with local security operatives.

Last year, the government built 12 markets on outskirts of the city center for hawkers and vendors. In addition, selling points have also been set up with well-furnished structures in sub-urban areas in a bid to end street hawking.

Kigal, has been transformed into a vibrant and a model city in Africa with its clean streets, serene environment coupled with breathtaking infrastructural developments.

Kigali has been on numerous occasions lauded as Africa’s cleanest city by the global reports thanks to the country’s ban on plastic bags in 2008 and monthly community work locally known as ‘Umuganda’.

The city targets to attain the status of the ‘centre of urban excellence’ in Africa by 2040 and has seen the development of numerous plush hotels and commercial plazas.


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