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Rwanda Joins AfDB-supported Remote Data Collection Initiative

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Rwandan Government has embraced the Remote Appraisal, Supervision, Monitoring and Evaluation (RASME) initiative, which is supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The RASME is a tool that enhances project-related data collection in remote areas. Rwanda is the first East African country to join and the seventh overall in the continent.

The initiative is a partnership of the AfDB’s IT Department (CHIS), the World Bank’s Geo-Enabling initiative for Monitoring and Supervision, and KoBoToolbox Foundation, a non-governmental organization affiliated with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

RASME enables Bank staff, including task and sector managers, country and regional program officers, and government officials, to compile project information directly from the field, using a smartphone, tablet or laptop, drones and satellites. The data is gathered in various formats, including text, video, graphics and even survey responses.

The step was marked during a ceremony held in Kigali on 17 May, which was attended by government representatives, project implementation units, the World Bank, and several African Development Bank units and departments.

Acting Director for External Finance in the Rwandan government, Gerald Mugabe said the Government of Rwanda welcomes the new initiative, and believes RASME will contribute to strengthening effectiveness as it will simplify project implementation, especially in terms of the quality and monitoring of projects.

Similarly, the IT Coordinator for the Bank’s East Africa regional office, Francis Kohoue said: “This tool is very useful for the Bank in two ways: in the context of Covid-19 where travels, missions and visits on project sites are limited; and also when visiting projects located in remote geographic areas where accessibility is either impossible, difficult or limited due to conflicts, lack of security, dangerous terrain or logistical constraints”.

AfDB’s Country Manager for Rwanda,Aissa, Sarr Touré praised the government for supporting the introduction of the tool. She urged participants to fully engage with the Bank’s implementing team so that the initiative can fully deliver effective monitoring and evaluation of projects.

The Bank is currently rolling out RASME across its country and regional offices to enable its stakeholders to prepare projects more effectively, track their progress and evaluate project impact on beneficiary communities.

RASME is currently being implemented in Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Mozambique.

In a related development, the Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) has approved an $11.02 million support package to the Permanent Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to help it enhance effective implementation.

The AfCFTA Secretariat opened its doors in Accra on 17 August 2020, with initial support of $5 million to set up the secretariat, the programmes, and the tools and to raise stakeholder awareness.

The world’s second-largest free trade area has a potential market of 1.2 billion consumers, but Africa has the world’s lowest level of intraregional trade at less than 18 percent, compared with 22 percent, 50 percent and 70 percent for Latin America, Asia, and Europe respectively.

The AfCTFA aims to increase this by up to $35 billion per year (25 percent) over a decade, lower annual imports by $10 billion, and boost agriculture and industrial exports by up to $45 billion (7 percent) and $21 billion (5 percent) respectively.

This second phase of support continues to aim to encourage sustainable intra-African trade and to increase the share of African countries participating in it. It is also intended to move the African trade integration agenda forward by enabling the secretariat and the countries of the zone, especially transition countries – to harmonize and integrate national and regional trade policy initiatives.

The support will be structured under three components: institutional strengthening of the AfCFTA Secretariat; private sector support to implement the AfCFTA, and support of climate-resilient regional and continental value chains to boost intra-Africa trade.

Studies and initiatives will be undertaken to identify new business and economic opportunities for women, to help develop the AfCFTA Women and Youth in Trade Protocol, and to support capacity building and targeted business skills for women.

AfDB’s Director of Industrial Development and Trade, Abdu Mukhtar said the relationship between the AfCTFA Secretariat and the Bank is crucial to achieving greater continental trade and the economic transformation of Africa.

“Our Board’s approval of this grant will enable the Secretariat to further ensure that trade is conducted in a harmonious, predictable and free manner on the continent”, he said.

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