President Kagame names Gatare new Rwanda Development Board CEO

Thursday September 28 2023

Rwanda’s newly appointed Rwanda Development Board CEO, Francis Gatare. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on Wednesday made key changes in his government dropping long-serving Ms Clare Akamanzi as the head of the country's influential investment and tourism promotion agency - Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and named former Defence minister Gen James Kabarebe recently retired as the new State Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The new Chief Executive Officer of RDB is Francis Gatare, an economist who until his latest appointment served as the Senior Economic Advisor in the President’s Office since 2021. 

Gatare has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors having previously served as CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB).

Shortly after his appointment, Mr Gatare said his strategy would be to advance public-private partnerships as the engine of Rwanda's economic growth. 

Read: Rwanda's Kagame reshuffles cabinet

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence, thank you HE @PaulKagame for the new assignment. Honoured to join the super talented and committed team at @RDBrwanda and pledge to give it my all, to listen and learn. The Vision: Advance Public-Private partnership as the engine of Rwanda’s Economic growth.” said Gatare in a tweet posted on Thursday shortly after his appointment.


The new changes announced by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Wednesday on behalf of the President saw General Kabarebe, who was recently retired and has previously served as Chief of Defence Staff of RDF and Senior Presidential Advisor on Defence and Security replace Prof Nshuti Manasseh who was assigned a new role as the Senior Advisor in the Office of the President in charge of Special Assignments.    

Read: Uganda, Rwanda retire long serving military chiefs

Scholars say the reshuffle at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs illustrates a major policy shift in Rwanda's regional policy which remains at loggerheads with its neighbour - the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amid counter allegations of fueling insecurity.  

"Having Gen Kabarebe in this new position (who probably knows the most about the DRC) illustrates a security/military diplomacy for regional cooperation (East African Standby Force) in stopping the massacres.

Something needs to be done and Gen Kabarebe's skills go beyond military and into diplomacy ... " said Dr Jonathan Beloff, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Kings College London who has authored a book on Rwanda -Military Strategies During the Genocide Against the Tutsis in Rwanda in a tweet posted on Thursday.

Who is Gatare?

From October 2009 to July 2014, he served as Principal Private Secretary to Kagame. He also served as the Chief Economist and Deputy Head of Policy and Strategy in the Office of the President.

Prior to joining the Office of The President, he served as the Principal Deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board.

Gatare also served as the Director General of the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency from May 2007 to September 2008.

From April 2005 to October 2009, he was the Personal Representative of HE the President of Rwanda, to the Nepad Steering Committee. Gatare has served in several managerial positions at UNDP and taught economics at universities.

Read: Paul Kagame's game plan for 2024

Akamanzi an International Trade and Investment Lawyer, was appointed CEO of RDB in 2017 a position which elevated her to a member of cabinet.

Under Akamanzi, RDB has successfully rebranded and positioned Rwanda as an attractive tourism destination under the Visit Rwanda campaigns as well as a competitive investment destination with favourable rankings from international indices by the World Bank and the World Economic Forum on ease of doing business and competitiveness.

“I am deeply grateful to HE (Paul Kagame) for the opportunity to serve at the Rwanda Development Board. The growth and mentorship I've experienced have been truly unprecedented. RDB has been more than a job; it's been a labour of love that has greatly enriched me both personally & professionally…” said Ms Akamanzi in a tweet posted on 28th September responding to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office announcing the changes.