Opinion

IWPR: Supporting the GoR’s Media Reforms

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By Anthony BordenIWPR_logo

Over the past five years, the Government of Rwanda has made great progress with its comprehensive media reform program. Throughout this period, IWPR – an international NGO based in London – has been honoured to serve as the main technical advisor to the government in this area. We are proud to have played a part in helping Rwanda achieve these excellent results.

Recent comments about IWPR by various sources have, however, seriously miscast the role and operations of international organisations. They have also made numerous factual errors in regards to IWPR’s work in Rwanda. We therefore wish to clarify our position.

1)   IWPR’s initial work in Rwanda was undertaken through a contract signed between IWPR London and the Government of Rwanda, with funding provided to the GoR by a European donor government. Subsequently, European donors changed the routing of this project funding, so that funds are now channelled from their capitals (e.g., Stockholm) to the NGO headquarters (in IWPR’s case, London) and then to Kigali. No monies are transferred out of Rwanda and thus there is no ‘flight of capital’, as has been suggested by some sources.

2)   Funds allocated for administrative costs are strictly limited according to rules set by donors. Expenditure is monitored and independently audited according to a budget plan which was provided by IWPR to the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) in 2014. The financial controls and procedures to ensure compliance have been independently reviewed by leading international accountants Ernst & Young. The correct total project amount of our support from the Swedish government is 42 million Swedish krona (c. US $5 million) over 24 months.

3)   In addition to extensive expenditure on direct project activities and benefits for Rwandan institutions, including equipment, operating costs, educational exchange, technical assistance and other costs, IWPR has directed Swedish funds to support the salaries of approximately 80 Rwandans in Rwandan beneficiary organisations and a further 18 Rwandan staff within the IWPR Rwanda local office. Direct funding for IWPR international support staff on the project is minimal, amounting to less than the equivalent of one full-time person based outside Rwanda.

4)   IWPR Rwanda Ltd was registered in 2013 as a company limited by guarantee, with no shareholders, and was operated on a not-for-profit basis. This structure is common under the legal and regulatory frameworks in England, where IWPR is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.

5)   The Government of Rwanda and IWPR Rwanda entered into an agreement in spring 2014 – entitled ‘Operating Guidelines for IWPR’s Activities in the Rwanda Media Sector’ – establishing a formal Steering Committee as well as a Technical Committee officially to oversee and coordinate the media reforms, under the auspicious of the Ministry of Local Government and the RGB.

6)   IWPR has been in discussion with the RGB since late 2014 about changing our status in Rwanda to that of an International Non-governmental Organisation (INGO). We submitted our application for INGO registration in April 2015. Once that is granted, our intention has always been to transfer all operations to the INGO and close IWPR Rwanda Ltd.

7)   The de-registration of IWPR Rwanda Ltd has been completed. The Rwanda Revenue Authority has confirmed that all tax and financial reporting requirements have been fully met in regard to IWPR Rwanda Ltd. The Rwanda Development Board has confirmed that all necessary paperwork has been completed and that IWPR Rwanda Ltd has been fully de-registered.

We are in cordial dialogue with the Government of Rwanda about achieving INGO status, in the hope that the work to support the media reform process may resume as soon as possible.

IWPR remains committed to supporting the efforts of the Government of Rwanda to continue to develop the media sector, encourage innovation and creativity and contribute to the goal of making Rwanda a digital hub for East Africa and beyond.

Anthony Borden is the executive director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

 

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