Reducing Inequalities is Key for Rwanda’s Economic Transformation

Lamin Momodou Manneh, United Nations Resident Coordinator & United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative
Lamin Momodou Manneh, United Nations Resident Coordinator & United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative

Lamin Momodou Manneh, United Nations Resident Coordinator & United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, discusses UN’s role in Rwanda and the country’s economic transformation.

European Times: What is the main role of the UN in Rwanda?

Lamin Momodou Manneh: Following the genocide, the UN has been a fundamental partner in the reconstruction of Rwanda. The leadership of the country, headed by President Paul Kagame, has promoted unity and reconciliation through various processes, programs and initiatives, and UN has a strong supporting role in these projects.

European Times: Which are the major chapters of cooperation?

Lamin Momodou Manneh: The UN works on programs for reconciliation, recovery and reconstruction. Its agencies are working with NGOs and the Government, thus significantly contributing to the country’s recovery process, the reconstruction of institutions, the rehabilitation of health centres, schools, the reconstruction of the roads etc. Currently there are 16 resident and eight non-resident agencies work in Rwanda. Furthermore, in 2008, Rwanda was selected with seven other countries to implement a new UN strategy, called “Delivering as One” or “One UN”. The current 2013-2018 cycle of “One UN” has budgeted around US$411 million aimed at assisting Rwanda’s development.

The Government devised the EDPRS (Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy) and in line with this strategy, we formed Development resource groups according to mandates and the specific areas of support. These included groups for economic transformation, rural development, productivity, youth employment, good governance and foundational issues (health, education, HIV issues etc.). Our support plan is called UNDAP (United Nations Development Assistance Plan) and encompasses inclusive economic transformation related rural development, productivity and youth employment; accountable government; and human development.

European Times: How does the UN supports Rwanda’s economic transformation agenda?

Lamin Momodou Manneh: Rwanda aims to transform into a middle income economy by 2025, which requires change in the structure of the economy. This has to be accomplished through increasing the share of manufacturing in GDP; increasing the share of high value services; and transformation of the agriculture through high value crops, mechanization, labour productivity, and irrigation. Furthermore, Rwanda is investing in green energy, as well as in industrialization of the agriculture. Through agencies like UNIDO, ITC, UNDP, FAO we are supporting the industrialization policies and we are funding some of the transformational activities like dairy processing plants, tea processing etc. UNDP is also supporting resource mobilization.

Based on the pillars of pro-poor economic growth, social inclusion and pro-poor environmental sustainability, we believe that reducing inequalities is the key of the economic transformation process. We also have a very strong gender component, and Rwanda has made an impressive progress in this regard, with 64% women in the Parliament. In terms of existing challenges, the off-grid potentials have not been utilized sufficiently, and transformational capacity development is necessary for the development of the country.

Investors need to understand the complexity of Rwanda and directly and indirectly support its transition in the context of stability and adherence of democratic principles.