Kagame: Aid should allow for ownership by citizens

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President Kagame and US philanthropist Howard Buffett (R) follow through submission of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a panel discussion at WEF meeting in Kigali yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

President Paul Kagame has said that development assistance and aid programmes should allow for ownership of solutions by citizens in order to have a longer term impact in development.

The President was speaking at World Economic Forum on Africa, which opened in Kigali yesterday.

He spoke at panel session titled, “A conversation on partnerships in Africa,” alongside former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Howard Buffett, the chairman of the Howard Buffett Foundation.

Kagame said development assistance and aid should not substitute the voices and priorities of citizens of a country or else they would not be sustainable.

“We appreciate partnerships, in our case we would like to have ownerships of the things we should own and do for ourselves,” Kagame said.

The President said partnership and ownership was achievable through close relations and conversations between the donors and receipients to access priorities and to outline expected objectives.

“There should be a conversation between the donors and the recipients of the resources. The recipients should be able to say what they want and what their priorities are, and work with donors to ensure that the resources are well utilised and the results are achieved,” he added.

This would in turn create an ideal situation for institution building and capacity building for the beneficiaries, the President said.

Kagame added that partnerships between the various players; development partners and recipients, was key to developing economies and filling gaps in governments.

“The strength of partnerships is very key. It brings in the aspects that are lacking in countries; they bring in experience and fill gaps in government systems, to ensure growthat of the economy,” Kagame said.

The President also highlighted the need for internal cooperation among citizens and leaders in development noting that it is one of the key ingredients in building independence of nations.

Citing the example of post-Genocide Rwanda, Kagame said from experience it was important to involve all parties in rebuilding and mobilising all efforts to bring about desired change.

Echoing the President’s remarks, Blair said development assistance was about working with beneficiaries to strengthen capacities of national institutions to take charge of progress.

He said at times aid agencies and development partners were afraid to take risks making them very bureauctic and reducing their potential impacts.

He said his own initiative, the African Governance Initiative, was impressed by Rwanda’s governance and delivery, hence the partnership.

Partnerships

On his part, Howard Buffett said partnership works well in environments where governments are seen to be responsible, accountable and development-oriented.

“In all the countries we work with across the continent, we are impressed with Rwanda because we are assured that the government means what it says and gets things done,” Buffett said.

Buffett also commented the recently concluded referendum and the change of constitution noting that the choice for President Kagame to run for re-election is the people’s choice.

“If we didn’t think President Kagame was going to be here for another seven years we wouldn’t even consider being here,” Buffett said.

“Every democracy goes through changes, we have 27 amendments to ours (the US). This is not my or your future, this is the Rwandans’ future and it is imperative that they drive what they see as factors that will achieve success. Let’s look at the results, let’s not put form before substance, let’s not think we know better than Rwandans, they know what they want for the future,” Buffett added.

Asked to respond to critics of the choice of Rwandans to change the constitution, President Kagame said: “What is the right time in dealing with a country’s problems and in particular problems for Rwanda? In the end I was put in a cage, are you running from this or are you staying with us. I came to think am I having to make a decision because of outside opinion or because of what the people of this country are saying or maybe go along and correct the course at the right time. Which is the right course, I cannot determine that and neither can the outside determine that...”

On the first day of the three-day forum, Kagame held several meetings, including one that brought together Heads of State of and Giovernment; Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Gabon, as well as South African deputy president.

President Kagame also met with Liliane Ploumen, minister for foreign trade and development in the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Philipp Rösler of the World Economic Forum, and Mikhail L. Bogdanov, special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Africa and deputy minister of foreign affairs, among others.

Kagame also hosted a reception in honour of visiting delegates at the forum’s venue, Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village.

The forum, which kicked off yesterday, is under the theme, “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation.”

Convening about 1500 delegates, the forum will see deliberations on a range of the continent’s economic aspects held including analysing opportunities and risks with a bias for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Heads of State and Government who attended yesterday’s sessions include Alpha Condé of Guinea, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, Macky Sall of Senegal, and Tanzania’s Vice-President Mohamed Gharib Bilal.

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