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Rwanda Launching ‘Diaspora Wealth Fund’?

It seems Rwanda has launched a new "sovereign wealth fund" to leverage the wealth of its citizens living overseas. It's an interesting idea; let's investigate...

Back in August of 2010, there were some rumblings that Rwanda, a country utterly dependent on foreign aid, was considering a new sovereign fund. At the time, I thought it was a bit odd for this government to be considering a sovereign wealth fund when, clearly, there wasn't much in the way of "wealth" at the disposal of the "sovereign". As you might have expected, the plan didn’t go anywhere. Or so I thought...

Official news reports are out this morning saying that Rwanda has in fact set up a new sovereign fund and is calling it the "Agaciro Development Fund" (AgDF). (Agaciro is apparently the Kinyarwanda word for dignity or self-worth.) The objective of the new fund is to leverage the country’s resources in order to minimize its reliance on foreign aid.

Wait, what? Resources? What resources? 

This is actually where things get rather interesting, as Rwanda's most valuable resource may be its Diaspora. In fact, it sounds to me as if this new fund is specifically designed to tap the wealth of Rwandans living overseas (especially as foreign aid is cut by cash-strapped governments in the west). Here’s a blurb:

“The process is spearheaded by Rwandans in the Diaspora, with support from their compatriots living in the country. The initiative has also received profound backing from the government.

Three accounts have been opened in Bank of Kigali, Bank Populaire and the National Bank of Rwanda, and The New Times has learned from reliable sources that several deposits have already been made.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, John Rwangombwa, explained why the Fund is a brilliant initiative. "The idea is to mobilise voluntary resources from Rwandans and well-wishers that would compliment government resources and expedite our development programmes towards achieving the Vision 2020".

The Finance ministry, the principal custodian of AgDF, is collaborating with various institutions to officially launch the Fund.”

As far as I know, this is the first “Diaspora Wealth Fund”.

And a hunch tells me this will be the last we see as well... I have my doubts that people will direct remittances to the state instead of their family. But let's wait and see.

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