Rwandan politics: poverty eradication, a priority of the current leadership
In 2007, the government adopted the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS). The strategy at the time set out the country’s objectives, priorities and major policies for five years (2008-2012).
It provided a medium-term framework for achieving the country’s long term development goals and aspirations as embodied in Rwanda Vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals.
Rwanda’s long term development vision articulated in the Rwanda Vision 2020 document is to become a lower middle income economy (US$900 per capita) while operating as a knowledge-based service hub by 2020.
But before the fifth year could elapse, Rwanda had already surpassed its set targets. This achievement again showed a leadership that is driven by the passion to improve the welfare of its people. This character has defined Rwanda’s leadership ever since President Paul Kagame sat into the driver’s seat.
The EDPRS 1 was summarized in four major underlying objectives which are: Increasing economic growth by investing in infrastructure, slowing down in population growth through reducing infant mortality, tackling extreme poverty through improved food security and targeted schemes of job creation and social protection and ensuring greater efficiency in poverty reduction through better policy implementation.
The assessment of the first EDPRS early this year showed a 12 percent reduction in poverty recorded over the last first five years, an equivalent of one million Rwandans or 200,000 households.
The progress made so far demonstrates that the country is on track to achieve most of the global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. This was an achievement enough to raise a glass over especially for those at the helm of it all.
Nevertheless, Rwanda will be seeking to set more ambitious targets to ensure that 45 percent of its citizens are out of poverty under EDPRS 2 which is set to be achieved in 2017.
Speaking at the launch of the EDPRS 2 in February this year president Kagame made it clear that it is not time to rest, but rather a time to work even harder, a sign that the country’s leadership will not rest at anything until poverty is kicked out completely.
The elaboration of the EDPRS 2, a hybrid version of the first one has been set and by October this year, a draft containing sector strategies, District Development Plans (DDPs) as well as proposed budget and needs assessment for the next five years will be submitted.
The targets have been set, focusing on infrastructure and energy development, skills and capacity building, job creation, markets and increased access to health and education.
From the look of things, this is what will characterize the leadership of Rwanda and by taking the example of those in leadership today, one would not be wrong to say that even those to come will take their predecessors’ footsteps to ensure the development of our country for a better Rwanda of tomorrow.