The current global context and trends have made it important for developing countries to take lead in their own development agenda and the pursuit of prosperity as opposed to leaving it to external stakeholders, President Paul Kagame has said.
President Kagame was speaking in Brussels, Belgium at the European Development Days (EDD) where he delivered a keynote address at the opening ceremony.
This year’s meeting is being held under the theme “Inequalities: trends and challenges in the context of globalisation”.
“It is not something that can be done by external actors alone…the starting point is an inclusive politics that puts citizens at the centre. Community ownership of development empowers citizens to hold government accountable,” Kagame said.
It is by ensuring community ownership and creating public trust for citizen involvement and support to development initiatives, he said.
“This builds public trust without which it is difficult for governments to define the challenges that impede progress, and implement appropriate solutions,” Kagame said.
Citing the case of Rwanda’s experience in citizen involvement, Kagame said that the country had been able to achieve results despite having minimal resources.
“In Rwanda, we have been able to get some good results relative to the limited level of resources at our disposal, particularly in areas including health, access to education, and the environment. This shows what is possible in other areas, and on a larger scale, especially by investing in human capital and technology. In addition, we are working to create new employment opportunities for women, youth, and vulnerable groups, so that they are able to make full use of their talents and innovation to achieve a better standard of living,” he said.
President Kagame also noted that the African Union will be working closely with the United Nations to close gaps in Sustainable Development Goals where current assessments indicate that Africa is off track in a number of goals.
He noted that the continent was starting to come together to assert its interests with one voice with the African Continental Free Trade Area being an ideal example.
“While industrialised nations become more preoccupied – and why not – with domestic and regional matters, Africa is also starting to come together to assert our interests with one voice. One of the most significant recent achievements in expanding the horizon of opportunities is the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will be formally launched next month at the African Union Summit in Niger,” he said.
He added: “Going forward, there is more work ahead to make sure that this agreement results in increased prosperity for all our people but we are eager to get started.”
Hosted by the European Commission, the event was initiated in 2006 by former Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, as Europe's leading forum on International Development to mobilise the 0.7 per cent target for Official Development Aid (ODA).
The forum brings together the development community to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.
Other African Heads of State attending the event include President Macky Sall of Senégal and President Jorge Carlos Fonseca of Cabo Verde.