Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo was yesterday endorsed as the leader of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), a grouping of some 84 countries that has the French language as the main unifying factor.
Mushikiwabo was approved by the Heads of State and Government Summit that ended Friday Yerevan, Armenia.
The organisation was created in 1970 to promote the French language, peace, and sustainable development in member states.
For the next four years, she presides over the body for which Rwanda is a founding member.
The New Timesspoke to several analysts on the significance of Francophonie to Rwanda.
Dr Alice Urusaro Karekezi, a researcher from the University of Rwanda’s Centre for Conflict Management (CCM), says that Rwanda stands to gain in several ways.
“Small states in the multilateral system can leverage their power through cooperation, OIF allows Rwanda to increase its influence and punch above her weight, in a world that is increasingly multipolar, and possibly fragmented,” she said.
She added that, diplomatically, Rwanda benefits to have an additional platform to connect with other African states that make up more than half of the member states of the organisation.
It also allows Rwanda to reach out to what represents one third of the United Nations member states and this means a lot in terms of market and other economic opportunities.
“Rwanda can also use French as a vehicle to enhance a multilingual society in the heart of Africa,” she added
Antoine Mugesera, a member of Rwanda’s Elderly Advisory Council, historian and a former senator, said Rwanda has more possibilities than most countries as it is a member of both La Francophonie and the Commonwealth.
“Rwandans are able to gain from both blocs, this means the world is more open for Rwanda and Rwandans can fit everywhere, it is double opportunity,” he said
He called for political will to ensure both French and English are promoted equally so that the country benefits optimally from membership of both organisations.
Rwanda is better placed to reap the benefits of being an active member of both bodies because speaking both languages only enhances one’s competitiveness on the international labour market or even in terms of trade, said the academician.
Juliet Benegusenga, a 24-year-old university graduate, said Rwandan youth and women stand a chance to benefit from the body as the French president Emmanuel Macron laid out a plan to empower the youth and women.