Kagame defends $1 million donation to AU for Covid-19 fight

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has defended Kigali’s decision to donate $1 million to African Union and the continent’s disease control agency for coronavirus fight, saying the contribution would benefit Rwandans as well.

Mr Kagame pledged the donation to AU and the Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) during a teleconference meeting with the African Business Leaders Coalition last week.

But in a press conference on Monday, President Kagame said the decision should not be construed to as misplacement of priorities as there were “other things being done for Rwandans as well.”

“One million dollars may sound a big deal if you put it in the hands of Rwandans, but I think we have mobilised more funds for Rwandans than the one million. In fact, maybe, we are drawing the one million from the resources we that have mobilised,” Mr Kagame told journalists in a virtual briefing.

“The statement that the money we donated to the AU Covid-19 Solidarity Fund and to the Africa CDC is a sort of misplacement of the effort is not necessarily true. Of course, we know we have Rwandans to take care of and primarily they come first, there is no question about it. There are other things being done for Rwandans as well,” he said.

He emphasised that once the AU and the African CDC were well equipped that would benefit Rwanda.

“I think to work together as a region, continent or internationally, you are not going to run away from the responsibility of making your contribution. In a sense, this feeds back to you if the [Africa] CDC and the AU are doing well. We as Rwandans benefit from that as well,” added the President.

Rwanda as at Monday had 207 Covid-19 cases with 93 recoveries. No deaths have been recorded.

The country has also extended a nationwide lockdown to April 30 in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

However, the impact of the lockdown is beginning to bite hard especially for the vulnerable members of the community who cannot feed their families.

A recent survey by Geopoll noted that 71 percent of Rwandans are “very concerned” about the economic impact of the lockdown, while 87 percent are worried about food supplies.

Over 30 percent of Rwandans live in poverty, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

Early this month, the IMF approved a $109m facility to cushion Rwanda against Covid-19 impact.

The country has also been hard hit by heavy rainfall which has left 11 people dead amid floods. 110 homes have also been destroyed, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management.

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