All is set for Rwanda to host the African Union Summit scheduled for July 10 -18 in Kigali, Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo has said.
Mushikiwabo, who was briefing journalists in Kigali to give an update on the preparations for the high-level event, yesterday, said the Government was “very ready,” adding that ongoing final touches in some infrastructure will be completed in time for smooth hosting of delegates and events.
More than 3,000 delegates are expected to attend the summit.
“We have been preparing for a long time. The Kigali Convention Centre was meant to be ready a while back, and there was delay, but the company now doing the final touches has absolutely been on time,” Mushikiwabo said, adding that she has personally, on a regular basis, been checking on the progress.
The magnificent Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre, Kigali, will host the main AU event.
About 50 African heads of state and their spouses, hundreds of senior government officials from across the continent, and heads of diplomatic missions are expected to attend the summit.
“I can confirm to you that Kigali Convention Centre will be open in the first week of July, precisely 10 days to the opening of the summit. The same for Marriott Hotel,” a confident Mushikiwabo said.
The construction of new bypass roads to manage traffic in the environs of Kigali Convention Centre in Kimihurura are also being finalised.
An advance team from the African Union Commission will be in Kigali this week to finalise the programme
According to Mushikiwabo, the items on the agenda include elections of the African Union Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson and several commissioners to replacing those who have completed their mandate.
“We will also be discussing how Africa can finance itself on a number of initiatives and programmes of the African Union. So, we will be expecting, ministers of Finance across the continent to be here to discuss—together with the heads of state—on resource mobilisation for peacekeeping, and going through the usual statutory discussions for such standards,” Mushikiwabo said.
Free movement of people across the continent and women empowerment are among the key issues on top of the agenda, the minister added.
The summit will run under the theme, “2016: African Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the Rights of Women.”
Mushikiwabo, who doubles as the Government Spokesperson, said the strategic meetings involving the heads of state will discuss how to deliver on the rights of women.
“Rwanda, being the country that has extremely been receptive of advancement of women, it is a very fitting theme for us here,” Mushikiwabo said, adding that several African ministers in charge of foreign affairs have, in the recent past, been “crisscrossing the roads” – mainly to engage in deliberations that can see women’s rights observed, in Africa and across the world.
Launch of African passport
To promote and facilitate free movement of people, goods and services across the continent, the 27th AU Summit in Kigali will see the launch of the African passport.
“This summit will see the first African passports delivered to the heads of state, symbolically, to start trickling down to other African citizens. We are looking at ways to speed up and facilitate, as much as possible, the free movement of people across the continent,” Mushikiwabo said.
She added that Africa would not realise valuable trade links without facilitating seamless movement of people, goods and services, hence the reason Rwanda has spearheaded the visa-free Africa concept.
“Rwanda is a country that strongly believes in integration, and we have taken measures to allow Africans to come to Rwanda and Rwandans to move across the continent,” Mushikiwabo said.
“In issuing visas on arrival, Rwanda is doing what we believe is right for integration. We are glad some few African countries have come on board…it’s difficult to advance intra-Africa trade without facilitating the movement of people, good and services.”