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China has announced funding of US$116 million for the Rusizi-Rubavu highway, which will run through the Karongi district in Rwanda and is expected to boost trade and tourism in the area
Speaking after the signing of the agreement recently, finance minister John Rwangombwa said that the facility was a soft loan to be repaid within 20 years and carried an interest rate of 1.5 per cent per year with a grace period of seven years.
He said the Kivu Belt was a rich region in terms of agriculture and tourism and thus the construction of the 66km road in two different stretches of 42km and 24km would boost the economy significantly.
Rwangombwa added that the government has mobilised all required funding and the work was expected to be completed in three to four years.
Tourism in the area will get a boost with better connectivity as the main tourist attraction Lake Kivu is famous for its fishing activities and the area produces about 70 per cent of the nation’s coffee and 40 per cent of its tea.
“The area is on the shores of Lake Kivu and a lot of spots like the hot springs in the region are part of the tourist attraction and transport has been a challenge because of poor road network till now,” Rwangombwa said.
The highway is a multinational road that will connect Rwanda to Burundi, Tanzania through Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The highway is expected to contribute to regional integration as well as stimulate trade between the four countries.
The Ambassador of China in Rwanda, Shu Zhan, expressed his gratitude for the existing bilateral ties between the two countries.
The road is being constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation under the supervision of CIMA, a Canadian firm.