The Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka, has said that the country attaches great importance to its membership to the Commonwealth group of nations.
The minister said this on Monday during the official opening of the 37th Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) in Kigali.
The three-day meeting was organised by the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association bringing together 53 sovereign states. All but two (Rwanda and Mozambique) member states are former British colonies.
The meeting will discuss internal and administrative business, including an exchange by board members on the Commonwealth Women in Local Government Network (ComWLG), the adoption of CLGF’s Gender Strategy, as well as capacity building and research programmes.
“Rwanda values very much its membership to the CLGF and the Commonwealth in general for fundamental reasons, particularly the values of development and good governance the two organizations strive for,” he said.
The minister told participants that the country had managed to rebuild from scratch across all sectors under visionary and committed leadership despite the tragic history characterised by bad governance, and ethnic divisionism, which led to the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
He added that Rwanda’s path to effective local government had been through decentralisation that the Government had steered ahead for more than a decade.
“Decentralisation ensured that Rwandans are empowered to fully participate in planning, implementation and managing their own development processes in a transparent and accountable manner,” he said
“The governance framework we adopted was the result of wide consultations, aimed at promoting consensual democracy, inclusive government, citizens’ participation and empowerment to fast-track the desired development,” he added
It is also expected that participants will on Tuesday visit both the Kigali Genocide Memorial at Gisozi and the Campaign Against Genocide Museum at the Parliament.
Wednesday will be dedicated to the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network (CSCN) meeting. Participants will be discussing issues revolving around Inclusive Urban Economies and discussions will focus on four areas; inclusive economic development and the challenges for secondary cities, inclusive cities: economic empowerment of women and other marginalised groups.
Others are cities and trade which will focus on the role of devolution in empowering cities and innovative and accountable finance for inclusive economic development.
The meeting will attract 48 participants from Commonwealth countries, including ministers, chairpersons of local government associations, mayors, academics and civil society organisations.
The Commonwealth recognises that city governments have a central role to play in enabling economic growth through improved services and investment in infrastructure, but also in convening local stakeholders, civil society and private sector to deliver local economic development and ensuring no-one is left behind, reads a statement.
The meeting, according to the statement, will provide an opportunity for Rwanda to share its work to strengthen secondary cities, to learn from their counterparts from across the Commonwealth grouping and to contribute to the future direction of the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network to strengthen city to city cooperation and learning in the Commonwealth.