President Paul Kagame has said that as African nations seek to adopt values and practices from across the world in pursuit of development, it is important to blend them with local values and practices to ensure solutions work in local context.
Kagame was speaking, yesterday, at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi, Kenya, at a high level panel session alongside Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo, African Development Bank chief Akinwumi Adesina, and Joseph Stiglitz, a renowned economist.
Kagame said nations have to learn from others but should always blend the lessons with their values to create a situation that works well locally.
“Good politics begins at home. Modernity does not mean importing values, it means improving your own,” he said.
Citing Rwanda’s experience in the process of fusing the two, Kagame said it involves starting with local values and borrowing values that are applicable in the local context.
“In Rwanda, we start with what is our own and blend it with what we learn elsewhere that can work for our context,” the President said.
He noted that, quite often, as nations embrace ‘borrowed’ values and practices, there is a misunderstanding and misperception that complete replication of the models will work in Africa.
“There is this confusion, that in democratisation or other processes, what is written or crafted elsewhere is what will work for Africa,” Kagame said.
Rather than complete replication that often fails, Kagame called for ownership, which is best created by blending the two to ensure local relevance.
The summit, which closed yesterday, was held for the first time in Africa since its inception in 1993.
The summit, whose main objective is to boost the strategic partnership between Africa and Japan in multiple areas, was attended by several African Heads of State and Government, all who insisted that Africa was seeking trade and partnership as opposed to aid.
Among the highlights was an announcement by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Japan was committing $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in Africa.
The package, to be spread over three years, includes $10 billion for infrastructure projects and will be executed through cooperation with the AfDB.
This is in addition to $32 billion that Japan pledged to Africa over a five-year period at the last TICAD meeting in 2013, of which, Abe said, at least 67 per cent had already been put to use in various projects.
At the summit, African leaders called on Japanese government to promote the continent as an investment destination for firms in Japan seeking to expand presence across the world.
The state of security and the increasing incidences of terrorism also came up at the summit. President Idris Deby, of Chad, the African Union chairperson, called on Japan to contribute to the African Fund Against Terrorism that was set up in July in Kigali.