Kigali, 30 November 2016
At a lively event, the Minister of Trade and Industry and East African Affairs, H.E. Mr François Kanimba, officially opened the 23rd Session of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Board Meeting. Attesting to how the EIF programme has provided sustainable impact in Rwanda, the Honourable Minister referenced the set‑up of the National Sector Working Groups while noting that, "the EIF gave us crucial support to develop our institutional framework and come up with an arrangement that suited our needs."
The 23rd EIF Board Meeting presents a significant milestone as the 3rd EIF Board Meeting taking place in an LDC and the 2nd in an African country. This is the first‑ever meeting of the EIF Board taking place in an LDC after the launch of Phase Two of the programme in January 2016. Rwanda has provided the right backdrop in helping to set strategic decisions to ensure that the programme is well positioned to meet its targets by the end of 2018 and to attract additional resources in order to be able to continue to deliver for the LDCs.
In the vibrant opening, Minister Kanimba noted that with political will and only moderate investments, initiatives such as the EIF in Rwanda had provided quick-wins and were impactful and meaningful. Providing examples, he elaborated that, "At the Cyanika border, where the EIF is also supporting our Cross-Border Market Centre, we went from 16 opening hours to 24 opening hours and volumes doubled," he said, adding, "The use of National IDs to move across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, which has increased the flow of people across these countries for both professional and personal reasons. This measure also has a huge impact on border communities that are now allowed to cross the border for trade with their National IDs."
As one of the fastest‑growing economies in Africa, Rwanda lights up the way for the other LDCs to pick up the mantle on how to make use of trade to achieve national development. With the EIF providing the institutional foundation for the LDCs to take leadership of national priorities, this is even more so embedded in the EIF's unique role recognized by global leaders in the Sustainable Development Goals under Goal 8a to deliver Aid for Trade support to the LDCs.
Joining in through a video link, H.E. Mrs Yvette Stevens, Ambassador of Sierra Leone in Geneva and EIF Board Chair, applauded Rwanda's and Minister Kanimba's leadership and commitment that had been essential for Rwanda's ability to drive its trade and development agenda forward. She emphasized that, "The future development and growth prospects of Least Developed Countries lies in meaningful integration into regional and global trade networks. Being a part of these networks means increased market opportunities, which under the right conditions, can translate into increased job and income opportunities, especially for the poor, for women and for youth."
Providing the welcoming remarks, H.E. Mr Eloi Laourou, Ambassador of Benin in Geneva, WTO LDC Group Coordinator and the Interim Chair of the 23rd EIF Board meeting highlighted the EIF's role in mobilizing the donor community to work for the development of trade as a route for economic growth and sustainable development in the LDCs. He emphasized the roleof governments in promoting trade as a vehicle for poverty reduction. "We need to first change the policy and legislative environment, which not only helps the LDCs to boost their trade but also attracts local and foreign investment. Sound public policies stimulate sound public‑private partnerships and thus sound private sector investments." He concluded by highlighting how empowering women was a key impact area of the EIF in EIF Phase Two in the drive for inclusive growth and poverty reduction. While noting how EIF support was addressing the specific challenges facing women entrepreneurs, he emphasized, "When we get the issues of women right in trade, then we will finally get trade in the LDCs right".
In his role as Rwanda's EIF Donor Facilitator, Dr Kato Kimbugwe from DFID spoke on behalf of the EIF Donors in Rwanda and highlighted the remarkable progress that Rwanda had made using the EIF and partners such as TradeMark East Africa and the World Bank towards attaining sustainable impacts in cross-border trade.
Expressing gratitude to the Honourable Minister and his team, Mr Ratnakar Adhikari, the Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat for the EIF also emphasized the catalytic framework role of the EIF programme in EIF Phase Two. He noted, "With its unique value added as the only Aid for Trade programme exclusively focused on the LDCs, where countries are in the driving seat and partnership approach is at its core, the EIF helps the LDCs to deliver on inclusive and sustainable development through trade." He further highlighted that the EIF had aligned Phase Two of the programme, including its results framework, with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The high-level launch took recognition of the EIF partnership of the LDCs, Donors and International Agencies with representation from Denmark, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom as well as Agencies including ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNIDO, the World Bank and the WTO. With the partnership role taking centre stage, the Honourable Minister also commended Rwanda's partnership with the EIF: "The EIF and the Government of Rwanda have always gone hand in hand; there has always been a common understanding and very similar ways of thinking about Rwanda’s use of trade as a tool for development and the type of institutional framework that needed to be set up in the country," he said.
In concluding the event, Mr Adhikari strongly re‑emphasized the framework value of the programme and of building partnerships to leverage resources and expertise for the LDCs' development. "While leveraging at the global and regional level is important, this is best done at the country level, as Rwanda has done in the case of the Inclusive Cross Border Trade Capacity Development project, where several development partners have contributed enormously towards helping the country achieve tangible results," he said.
The programme for the EIF Board Members in Rwanda also includes a joint workshop with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and East African Affairs on cross-border trade strategy implementation as well as a field visit to Karongi, one of the two cross-border trade markets being supported by the EIF programme.
Notes to editors:
The EIF is a multi-donor trust fund, which provides financial and technical support to build trade capacity in all 48 LDCs and three graduated countries. The EIF programme administratively housed within the WTO is the only global Aid for Trade programme exclusively designed for the LDCs and is, therefore, uniquely placed to assist the countries to develop sustainable trade strategies, which have a positive impact on people's lives through the promotion of private sector development and job and income opportunities.