Under the Auspices of AfDB, Togolese Delegations in Rwanda to Discuss Teaching and Microfinance

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With the assistance of the African Development Bank (AfDB), a high-level 13-person delegation from Togo visited Kigali, from October 20-27, 2013.

The objective of the mission was to exchange views on the ways and means of improving the living conditions of Togolese teachers with their Rwandan counterparts.

The delegation was led by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Florent Yao Badjam Maganawe, and included a Member of Parliament, the Secretary General for Technical Education, teachers and civil servants.

Togo has about 30,000 primary and secondary school teachers and about 60,000 civil servants. Teachers’ demands have very often concerned pay claims and high costs of living. Payroll for teachers account for about 50 per cent of national civil service wages.

This visit followed discussions held in February 2013 between the Togolese Head of State, Faure Gnassingbé, and AfDB President Donald Kaberuka on matters relating to Africa’s transformation and inclusive growth. Exchanging views on the question of social and economic inclusion, they deplored the limited access of teachers to financial products and services given their economic and social needs. Reflection on these issues by the Togolese President and Kaberuka prompted the need to look into and set up microfinance institutions accessible to teachers.

To this end, the Togolese delegation visited models of savings and credit cooperative unions (“Umwalimu Sacco”) in Rwanda including those in Kigali and up-country on the Kigali, Rulindo, Musanze and Rubavu high road. During discussions, the delegation was informed about the history, structures, functioning, computerization of the various Umwalimu Sacco and the advantages derived by teachers and members of these microfinance institutions.

The delegation was received by the Minister of Education, Vincent Biruta, and held discussions with the Secretary of State in charge of primary and secondary education, Mathias Harebamungu, on the education policies of the two countries. In order to provide better living conditions to teachers, the Togolese delegation visited three schools in Rwanda (the Rulindo science school for girls, the Nyundo School of art, the Kicukiro regional polytechnic and the Kanombe technical and professional training school. The delegation also seized the opportunity to participate in community tasks by helping in the construction of a school in Kagarama (Kigali) alongside Minister Harebamungu.

Discussions between the Togolese delegation with the Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, John Rwangombwa, and the Director General of the Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA) dwelt on the accreditation, supervision and support, as well as the challenges and opportunities of these institutions that play a dual role as cooperatives for social activities and as financial institutions guided by judicious norms .

Discussions with officials of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated branch of Rwanda led by its Director, Eric Rubega, were in relation to the more attractive products offered by commercial banks, more in order to make profit from the exceptional capacity of Umwalimu Sacco, in terms of savings mobilization and credit protection. Presentations made by Ecobank concerned the positive correlation between the creation of Umwalimu Sacco and the diversification of banking products and services accessible to most costumers.

In this regard, both Ministers of Education and the AfDB Resident Representative in Rwanda, Negatu Makonnen, acknowledged this South-South partnership as a model in the exchange of knowledge and experience.

The AfDB Resident Representative made it clear that the Bank will spare no effort to accompany Togo and Rwanda in the quest for innovative and sustainable solutions in order to provide better living conditions for teachers.

Following this exploratory phase, the AfDB will work hand-in-hand with the Government of Togo in the preparation of a feasibility study for setting up teachers’ savings and credit cooperative unions.