Africa knows what’s best for herself, says Kagame

Samaila Zubairu, the chief executive of Africa Finance Corporation, looks on during the Eisenhower Fellowships conference in Kigali yesterday. Courtesy.

The African continent will not accept to be continuously lectured by outsiders on what is best for its social economic progress as has been the case over the years, President Paul Kagame has said.

The President was speaking at the Eisenhower Fellowships Africa Regional Conference where he met with over 200 Eisenhower Fellows who are meeting in Kigali.

The conference is organized by Eisenhower Fellowships (EF), an organisation that started in 1953 in honour of the 34th US President Dwight Eisenhower.

The summit, which closes on Saturday, is themed around Africa’s integration in multiple aspects such as trade, work, technology, governance and partnerships.

Kagame said that unlike what has been the case over the previous decades, the continent cannot be continuously shepherded by foreign countries and partners who think they know best what is ideal for the continent.

“One way we could be helped, especially by those who level criticism without much understanding of the context, is by paying less attention to us. Understand we are people like them who mind our business and need to take care of our wellbeing,” the President said.

The patronizing attitude, Kagame said had been going on for far too long and leads to no development or progress.

“We have had too much time with the rest of the world telling Africa, what we need to do, even taking it to the level that they understand what we need more than we understand ourselves. It is absolute falsehood and it is wrong,” he added.

He said that the African continent cannot accept the trend adding that the continent knows best what is right for development and can be responsible for her own progress.

“We don’t accept the message that we can always be told what to do and what not to do, endlessly. You keep teaching me what I need to do and there is never a point where I will graduate or take on that responsibility myself,” he said.

Citing an instance of when ‘internationally recommended practices were not the most ideal, Kagame gave an example of the justice mechanism after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. While the ‘internationally approved justice mechanism, United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha tried only 70 suspects which cost about $2.5 billion, the ‘local’ option Gacaca Courts heard over 1Million cases and cost $37m and was far more effective.

President Kagame also challenged young leaders to look to bridge the development gaps between African and the rest of the world noting that the continent has enormous wealth.

“If you look at Africa and the enormous wealth, people should be asking why is it that parts of the world that were at the same level of economic standing 40-50 years ago, today are hundreds of times better off.

The question must be what went wrong. This is a question everyone should be answering including the young ones because otherwise how will they correct it, they must understand they owe it to themselves to understand the challenges and address them,” he said.

Fielding questions from the young leaders, the President also exhibited optimism in the future saying that increasingly there is a realization that working together as a continent, everyone stands to benefit and realise more progress as opposed to working independently.

The delegates at the conference included top government officials, business leaders, academics, scientists and journalists.

Participants are looking into subjects such as new partnerships aimed at creating a prosperous world that reverses rising inequality and ideal frameworks for national, regional, continental and global cooperation to drive inclusive economic growth.

Delegates will also partake in tourism activities across the country as well as gain insights into various investment opportunities in the country.

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