African countries should work together to defeat neocolonial tendencies that may derail its development and seek ways to exploit all the resources the continent possesses to develop it.
Donatille Mukabalisa, the Speaker of the lower chamber of deputies made the call on Saturday while opening the International Conference to mark African Liberation day at Intare Conference Arena in Kigali.
Organised by the Pan-African Movement (PAM) Rwanda, the conference sought to deliberate on issues that need urgent attention to enable the continent develop faster and catch up with the rest of the world.
It brought together members of the Pan African Movement in the country, diplomatic corps, politicians as well as academia among others.
The conference tackled issues of good governance, peace and security, sustainable development as well as education, according to Protais Musoni, the Chairman of Pan-African Movement Rwanda Chapter.
Senior politicians and experts deliberated on topics including Shaping Africa’s future on the World stage, Africa’s Sustainable Development: Challenges and Prospects, Creating a Peaceful Africa and Educating Africans for the Future.
Speaking during the conference, Mukabalisa said that African countries and peoples of Africa have overcome various challenges such as slavery, colonialism and apartheid but called for reinforced African solidarity to defeat neocolonial interference within African affairs.
“Tackling Africa’s development challenges require collective efforts with dynamic political commitment. Africans should understand that Africa is not a hopeless place, it is not a poor continent, it has rather immense and unlimited opportunities,” she said.
“We have everything needed to transform our continent and it is our shared responsibility, as Africans to concentrate on our priorities and the needs of our citizens in order to build the Africa we want and deserve,” she added.
She said that the Africa had laid a strong foundation, especially the African Union reforms spearheaded by President Kagame, which is a demonstration that if Africans worked together, a lot could be achieved.
She also cited the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which will be operation in July following the ratification of 22 required countries.
“I have no doubt that we can achieve a lot if we, as Africans, keep committed to permanently address the challenges at the core. Whatever we want to do, it can only be attained faster and better if we work together,” she noted calling for unity and solidarity for peace and prosperity of Africans.
“No problem will be hard to solve and the transformation we want to achieve will be possible if every citizen is involved,” she added.
Charles Munyaneza, the Executive Secretary of National Electoral Commission (NEC) said Africa needs democracy and elections which match with the needs and aspirations of Africans than what is read in books.
“We should have democratic and electoral systems that allow Africans to think like Africans and give value to Africans other than just taking what we read in books without considering what we want,” he said.
“We are still grappling with political and electoral systems, confrontation of political systems inherited from colonisers,” he added calling for youth involvement in whatever African leaders do.
Richard Sezibera, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said Africa should work hard and use its natural and human resources to double efforts to boost its development and its contribution to the global development.
He said AfCFTA will be a watershed for Africa which contributes less than two per cent of global trade.
“Africa is poised, we have the right resources, committed leaders, and there is a sense of Africa to drive the agenda for Africa now, not tomorrow. We need to get our acts together, implement what we have agreed and we will own the future,” he said.
Kampeta Sayinzoga, the Director General of National Industrial Research and Development Agency said the future of industrialization in Africa will only be possible if there is a mindset change coupled with political will and a coalition of willing.
Fodé Ndiaye, the UN resident coordinator said some countries in Africa have leadership without management, those with management without leadership and those with neither of the two.
“The future of Africa should be about the combination of both, we need leaders with both leadership and management, we need good leadership, human capital development to drive our manufacturing industry which is very important in development,” he said.
“Youth is also very important, if Africa has to move we need to engage the youth because we are in a world of technology and Artificial Intelligence,” he said.
The conference was held under the theme: “Celebration of African Liberation Day: The Future of Africa, Challenges and Prospects”