President Paul Kagame has said that it is not too late to address the immigration crisis in Europe. Kagame was speaking after meeting Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who was on a one day official visit to Rwanda.
Addressing a joint press conference yesterday, President Kagame said that their discussions revolved around avenues to improve bilateral ties between the two nations as well as Europe’s cooperation with Africa.
Among the subjects that featured in Europe’s cooperation with Africa is the migration issue. The subject has featured prominently in recent years following the rise of migrants moving to Europe in search of better opportunities.
Senior officials from both Rwanda and Austria at Village Urugwiro during the joint news conference between President Kagame and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz yesterday. Village Urugwiro.
Many have lost their lives while others are stranded at border points.
President Kagame said that it is not too late to address the growing crisis, which he said requires close collaboration between Europe and Africa.
“If you look at numbers of people leaving our continent going to Europe, we have to ask ourselves how this can be managed properly. The how is there, we should have done this long ago but it’s never too late to do the right thing,” he said.
He said that immigration rose because some Africans feel that their continent lacks basic conditions for them to live decent lives.
“The partnership with Europe and Africa should have invested properly, created an environment to retain our young people and guarantee them that staying in your continent or country is better for you and you can find safety, security and jobs,” the president said.
He said that going back to the genesis of the challenge, the immigration crisis worsened, in part, due to the invitation and incitement by a section of European nations to African immigrants.
Kagame said that prior to the crisis, some European countries were very inviting to Africans, promising them a better life.
“If you look at (the) history of this migration, for a long time, Europe either inciting or inviting people to go to Europe. The message was ‘your African countries are governed badly and you should come to us’. The impression created was if you have a problem in your country, whether its false or true, just come to our paradise. And people came. To the point where people can’t have immigrants anymore” the President said.
Over time, he said, Europe was overwhelmed by the surge of immigrants.
Going forward, he added, that the two continents ought to focus on availing opportunities to reduce the need for Africans to seek opportunities elsewhere.
By creating the opportunities and eliminating the need for immigration, he explained, the two parties will spend way less funds as opposed to addressing it when it’s full-blown.
“The kind of investment you spend on people who have come there is so huge that if you invested in Africa, we could create industries. The problem is not Europe, we have our own fair share of the blame we have to take,” he said.
“The way people are addressing it is through firefighting and sometimes it doesn’t put out the fire, it inflames it. We all need to sober up and find solutions even if they are complicated. We can’t find an easy solution to a difficult problem,” he added.
Talks between the two leaders also touched on improving bilateral ties as well as the upcoming Africa-Europe High Level Forum which is co-hosted by Rwanda and Austria.
The summit will be held in Vienna, Austria on December 18, this year and will bring together leaders from the two continents, policy makers as well as members of the business community.
The two countries are co-hosting in their capacities as chairpersons of their respective continental organisations; African Union and European Union.
On the agenda is investments and partnerships that can bring Africa and Europe together for mutual benefit.
The visiting Chancellor congratulated Rwanda for the rapid economic progress in recent years which he said has been validated by indexes such as the World Bank Doing Business reports.
He also congratulated the country for its involvement in the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement as the pact was signed during Rwanda’s time as chairperson of the African Union.
He expressed his country’s interest to increase investment in Africa and Rwanda through their Development Bank as well as an investment fund for Small and Medium Enterprises.
“In our meeting we agreed to in particular deepen our economic partnership,” he said, adding that the Austrian Development Bank will increase its portfolio in the next years to 55 million Euros.
“We will also launch an investment fund for Small and Medium Enterprises of 10 million Euros,” Kurz said.
During his visit to Rwanda, Kurz also visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial.