Kigali is set to host an international conference on democracy and governance, coming just weeks after the inaugural Meles Zenawi symposium on democratic developmental states in Africa.
Next month’s event is being organised by the Pan African Trade Union in conjunction with the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB). A preparatory meeting attended by representatives of both bodies was held last week in Kigali.
Speaking to The New Times, Prof Anastase Shyaka, the chief executive officer of RGB, confirmed the development, saying the two-day conference is scheduled to start on October 28.
Joel Akhator Odigie, the coordinator of human and trade union rights at the African Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), last week, said Rwanda’s achievements under President Paul Kagame makes the country the ideal place to host an African conversation on democracy and governance.
President Kagame is expected to grace the conference’s opening session that could also be attended by Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Dr Nkosazana Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), according to the organisers.
Other high profile guests expected at the conference’s opening include former presidents of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Omar Konare of Mali and Abdou Diouf of Senegal as well as Rabiatou Serah Diallo, the former head of the transitional government of Guinea.
Arezki Mezhoud, the secretary general of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, the secretary general of ITUC-Africa and Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labor Organisation are also expected to attend.
According to Prof Shyaka, it is imperative for the continent to engage in a conversation on democracy and governance in Africa.
“Rwanda is delighted to provide the platform for the conversation, where stakeholders from the academia, trade unions and civil society can share and learn best practices from each other,” he said.
Participants will discuss the development of democracy and governance in Africa and brainstorm on why, after over 50 years of independence, the continent continues to lag behind other parts of the world.
For Pan-African trade unionists like Odigie, the conference will provide an opportunity for policy makers and politicians to explain why, in spite of the continent’s human and vast mineral resource wealth, their people remain stuck in grinding poverty and disease.