Kagame lauds AfDB for its role in Africa’s transformation
President Paul Kagame has lauded African Development Bank (AfDB) for its crucial role in transforming Africa into the fastest developing continent.
Kagame was speaking today, while officially opening the Bank’s 2014 annual meeting taking place in Kigali.
The annual meeting, attended by delegates from the continent’s 54 Countries and others from around the globe, started on 19th and ends on Friday, 23 May 2014.
“The African Development Bank and your capable President have been a real asset to the continent’s advancement, particularly appreciated, is the Bank’s attention in practical issues related to your core mandate and your focus on innovative wealth to have development in Africa,” Kagame said.
The head of state said that Africa has made progress over the last half century, despite the challenges met by some African Countries where ‘the road has been jagged.’
“Without doubt, Africa has made progress over the last half century. For most of our countries, the road has been uneven and we have sometimes stumbled or stopped, but we have forged ahead,” said amidst applause from the audience.
President Kagame added that across the African continent, there is a renewed sense of optimism that gives the meaning to the familiar phrase of ‘Africa Rising.”
Africa full of opportunities
In an annual meeting that was attended by other heads of states and governments including Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museven, Ali Bongo Ondimbo of Gabon, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa as well as African Union chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Kagame said that Africa is full of potential that needs to be wisely utilized.
“Africa is one of the few places in the world that has a lot of room to grow… more businesses are taking notice globally. But Africa has always had the attributes necessary to rise. So why have we fallen short?” asked Kagame.
The head of state noted that the effects of good governance and integration have started to be witnessed by Africans themselves.
“Throughout the continent, we are starting to see the positive effects of improved governance and better integration in the global economy thanks to different technologies amongst them ICT. We also have opportunities in a growing middle class and a youth bulge.” Kagame said.
The president pointed out that there are evidence points to sustained economic growth for the coming decades, adding that “This upward curve is the result of deliberate action by African countries.”
Instabilities remain a challenge
President Kagame told the audience that Africa’s key hindrances have been insecurities, economic shortfall and local agricultural produces. Kagame said that issues of insecurities are not only for a single Country but affects the whole continent.
“Long spells of instability in parts of Africa, high energy and transport costs, fragmented and non-integrated economies, and a high dependency on primary commodities are just some of the well-known obstacles. Over the last two decades, many African countries have worked to resolve major problems and began to lay the foundations for future prosperity,” he said.
Taking an example of instabilities, President Kagame said that the difficult situation the continent undergoes is a reflection that progress can always be reversed.
“A number of difficult situations around the continent today remind us that progress can always be reversed. We also have to be reminded that together we may rise or together we may fall. We are responsible for ourselves. But we are also, to some extent, responsible for each other.
Instability in any part of Africa affects us all. That is why we have seen increased engagement by African leaders, the African Union, and regional organisations in peace and security matters on the continent,” noted Kagame.
The President emphasised articulated that further progress depends on Africa’s ability to work together and with other partners on meaningful mechanisms to resolve conflicts, calling on for continued strengthening of every Country’s internal systems to prevent conflicts in the first place.
Rwanda’s reconstruction journey is a one yet to be written
In his remarks, African Development Bank President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka thanked President Kagame and his government for working hard to transform Rwanda from what the World had declared a ‘failed’ state to a model Country.
“Twenty years ago, here in Rwanda, a million people were exterminated in only three months, the fastest massacre in recent history. Innocent men, women, babies, were eliminated in cold blood, with unprecedented brutality, simply because of their circumstances of birth.
That chapter, one of Africa’s darkest, will forever mark the history of this continent. In the aftermath of this ignominious chapter, Rwanda was written off as on the way to a failed state.
Indeed, from all angles, the situation looked desperate. And yet here we are today, the cross-section of the whole world of finance and beyond…recognition of how far this nation has come,” said Kaberuka.
“The story of this country’s journey of reconstruction is one yet to be written,” he added.
Dr. Kaberuka said that what happened to Rwanda must leave a strong lesson to many other African Countries.
“But there are lessons here very relevant to many African countries facing challenges of reconstruction. I can immediately think of two: First, it does not matter how bad the initial conditions, a determined people can prevail against even the most impossible of all odds.
I know that many friends of Rwanda, in Africa and abroad, individually and collectively have made a contribution. It is only fair to add that nothing would have been possible without the People of Rwanda themselves doing the heavy lifting.
Second, while there are manuals on how to put up the most complex structure, there is no such a toolbox as to how a destroyed nation is rebuilt…People have to look to their culture, their history, the nature of the crisis they face and come up with their own solutions. This is what is happening here in Rwanda.”
The AfDB said that the Bank, through different interventions over the years, has been a reliable partner in Rwanda’s journey of reconstruction.
The official opening of the AfDB annual meeting was followed by a session themed: Have your say with leaders and among the panelists were President Kagame, Yoweri Museveni, Ali Bongo Ondimba and Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto. The heads of states interacted with the youth on the better future of Africa.