The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) is a pan African platform and organization for lobbying and advocating for debt cancellation and addressing other debt related issues in Africa. To date AFRODAD remains committed to contributing towards the long-term development of the continent through its contribution to the sustainable solutions to Africa’s challenges in debt and resources management and financial development.

Therefore, AFRODAD in collaboration with Center for Economic and Policy Priorities CEPP Rwanda will conduct a Media Training on Debt Management and Launch the African Borrowing Charter on the 22nd and 23rd of October 2020 in Rwanda under the theme: Partnering with Media in Debt Management for Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Africa. The training is aimed at sensitising media practitioners on the implications of public and publicly guaranteed debt on human rights, poverty, inequality and macroeconomic performance.

The trained media practitioners are expected to increased media reporting on debt management and related issues particularly debt contraction, debt records and analysis is vital in raising informed voice and demand for accountability among the citizenry.

 Launch of the African Borrowing Charter

The second day of the workshop will see the Launch of the Charter with the media and other participants. The African Borrowing Charter is a valuable guide for any Government that desires to sustainably balance public debt levels while accelerating inclusive development and enhance public service delivery in the specific African country. It also aims to contribute to improvements in the transparency of the political, institutional and administrative processes used; and the accountability of the State actors involved in:

  • the contraction and management of public debt;
  • the issuance of public guarantees;
  • the selection and implementation of debt financed projects; and
  • the formulation and execution of overall fiscal policy, within the context of strengthened legal frameworks and the rule of law.

All the actions and expected commitments set out in the Charter are in pursuit of the African shared vision of “The Africa We Want: Agenda 2063” for “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development”.

  1. BACKGROUND

AFRODAD’s mission is to contribute to Africa’s inclusive economic growth and sustainable development through influencing policy change on debt management and development finance anchored on a right based approach.  While the CEPP mission aims at analyzing and research on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low and moderate-income families and individuals, it promotes pluralism of ideas from key policy issues through debates and advocacy, it also proposes government policy feasible alternatives through evidence-based research and provides research back up to policy makers including members of parliaments and policy implementers at both central and decentralized level. AFRODAD and CEPP  in 2017 have jointly produced the analysis of loan contraction process and debt management in Rwanda  http://mwamba.rw/2020/09/15/debtmanagement-in-rwanda   and have organized in March 2018, side event around  the African Union summit in Kigali,  which signed for the Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, we had brought together civil society organizations and think tanks working on loan and aid management as well as illicit financial flows from Africa. In this same regard the CEPP together with AFRODDAD hosted the meeting in Kigali which elected for a regional civil society committee on the fight of illicit financial flows.  Indeed under this same partnership, CEPP had sent more than two times candidates to the AFRODAD summer schools in south Africa and in Namibia  consecutively . Among others AFRODAD had realized the debt literacy gap amongst the journalists and that it is key for this stakeholder to be conversant with debt management issues so that they spread accurate information to as many citizens as is possible.  Given the apparent inclination of African States towards deliberate disinformation and underreporting of critical public finance management issues, objective and accurate reporting by informed journalists becomes very important.  

Rwanda’s economy has made progress in achieving macroeconomic stabilization following the last five years (2014-2019), despite several cases of mismanagement, misuse and embezzlement of public funds according to the public account committee (PAC)  of the national parliament and the 2018 report of the office of the auditor general of the Republic of Rwanda.   However, Rwanda faces a moderate risk of debt distress based on an assessment of public external debt, with heightened vulnerabilities related to domestic debt and there is a gap in reporting public finance management issues across the private and public media houses.

At the backdrop of the Media Training on Debt Management, it is critical to know that Rwanda’s debt sustainability analysis by the international monetary fund IMF, indicates continuation of low risk of debt distress. 1 External debt burden indicators remain below risk thresholds, except for temporary breaches of one debt service indicator in 2023, when the Eurobond issued in 2013 matures. Recognizing Rwanda’s investment needs on the one hand and its still narrow export base and import-dependent growth on the other, the authorities are focused on carefully choosing the highest return projects, financed under the most favorable terms

In 2018 Rwanda public debt was 3,273 million euros 3,865 million dollars, has increased 528 million since 2017. This amount means that the debt in 2018 reached 40.66% of Rwanda GDP, a 4.16 percentage point rise from 2017, when it was 36.5% of GDP. The rise of debt reflects a long-planned comprehensive public investment strategy, including three large projects to support increased tourism and trade. The large projects include: the construction of the Kigali Convention Center (KCC), completed in 2016; the expansion of the national airlines Rwandair, which is underway; and construction of a new airport to handle cargo and increased passenger loads, which has commenced. These projects, which are being completed through a series of PPPs and external guarantees, have contributed to an increase in external public debt to 37.5 percent of GDP in 2017 from 16.4 percent in 2012 .

It is from this backdrop that the FRODAD in partnership CEEP have though about organizing a two days media training on understanding the loan and debt contraction process and management with clear knowledge on the reporting on debt and loan contraction issues , the mismanagement of public funds and embezzlement 

  1. OBJECTIVES OF THE MEDIA TRAINING

The objectives of the Media Training on Debt Management are:

  • To engage and increase media participation in the campaign for sustainable debt management in Rwanda To build media professionals’ knowledge and understanding of Debt Management
  • To create a network of journalists who can adequately report on Debt Management and related issues
  • To build and exchange innovative and effective techniques for monitoring and reporting debt management and related issues in Rwanda and reaching grassroots communities
  1. INTENDED OUTCOMES

The intended outcomes for the meeting are:

  • An increased understanding, uptake and dissemination of debt information amongst Rwandan citizens;
  • Improved reporting of debt and public finance management issues in Rwanda media;
  • An increased demand for transparency and accountability on the use of tax payers’ money by citizens from the solution holders at both local and national levels; and
  • A database of journalists committed to report on economic development, AFRODAD and its partners work in the East Africa region.
  1. TARGETED STAKEHOLDERS

 The capacity building workshop is targeting 30 business journalists from print, radio, television and online media houses from the various provinces of Rwanda.  CEPP and AFRODAD will also bring to the platform Community Radio practitioners that link the role of the media and financing for development to benefit from this training and also share their experiences.

  1. CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP

A two days’ workshop is planned in Kigali city /Rwanda given that most media houses in Rwanda have their headquarters (or main newsrooms).

  1. CONTENT AND STRUCTURE OF THE MEDIA TRAINING

 An adult learning approaches and participatory methods of learning will be used. The workshop will include interactive sessions, group discussions, as well as guest presentations by lead experts. The sessions will include the following:

  • General concepts (theory and practice)
  • Comparative analysis of current situations (nationally, regionally and globally)
  • Case studies
  • Policy discussions/group work and conclusions
  1. TRAINING MODULES
  • The role of the Media in Debt and Public Finance Management
  • Understanding Public debt and its Centrality in Macroeconomic Performance
  • Human Rights and Public Debt Management
  • Accessing Debt Information and Debt Transparency

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