Speaking at a joint news conference with Benin President Patrice Talon at Village Urugwiro in Kigali, yesterday, President Kagame said key among the reasons for President Talon’s visit to the country is the importance of cooperation among African countries to create opportunities to learn from one another for shared prosperity.
Kagame highlighted that such cooperation and ties would advance integration of the entire continent and development of African citizens.
“Through our cooperation and relationship, we hope to work more closely to advance integration for our continent and our people,” he said.
The President said the development of Rwanda has largely been facilitated by own experience as well as borrowing from others what works in local context.
“One of our modest ways of bringing change has been trying to learn through others and applying what works for us,” he said.
Asked about Rwanda’s development model, Kagame said: “We Rwandans want to govern ourselves. This will not be a gift given to us by outsiders. We must do it ourselves.”
“We leaders need to raise the pace at which we work. We are making good progress but we need to make more progress,” Kagame added when commenting on the challenges that still face Africa, including intra-African trade and ease of transport.
A highlight of the three-day state visit was the signing of a general cooperation agreement by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the two countries.
The general cooperation agreement covers multiple aspects, including business exchanges, promotion of investments, expertise exchange, tourism, facilitating free movement of goods and people and development of textile industries.
On his part, President Talon said his visit to Rwanda had been partly informed by his admiration for his host, President Kagame, for his leadership style.
Talon said during his visit, he had learnt from the various institutions and agencies and field visits and that he was eager to return home to replicate lessons learnt.
Among the areas he said Benin would benefit greatly from Rwanda was in the ICT sector, where, he said, Rwanda had made much progress.
Other areas in which the two countries can work closely, Talon said, was in the development of tourism sectors with each becoming a focal point and destination for the other.
Talon also announced that Benin would scrap visa requirement for African passport holders.
Commenting on the ongoing African Union restructuring and reforms exercise, Kagame said the process will see the organisation become more efficient, productive and foster unity across Africa.
He accepted the responsibility to oversee and spearhead the body’s reform to make it more efficient in accomplishing purposes it was created for.
The President said the restructuring of the AU Commission he was overseeing was in response to demands by the continent.
“We want to bring in more unity, efficiency and more productivity in our institutions to serve Africa well, the way Africa wants,” Kagame said.
So far, he said, the process had been largely been about identifying and involving stakeholders to facilitate the reforms.
The process will see Rwanda present a proposal on the reforms in January during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The President, however, said that although Rwanda was spearheading the reforms, the process would be largely characterised by inputs from people and leaders from across the continent. Rwanda’s role will be to build on the wishes and expectations expressed.
“We have just started and are organising beginning with people who will help us put together ideas. We want leaders and people from different countries to make input in this. For us our job will be to build on the wishes and bring in new dynamism as to how we can run our business together for more productivity and quick delivery of what we need to give to our people,” he said.