The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Centre for Africa, to be established in Rwanda, will play a pivotal role in adding to African nations’ development plans and the continent’s efforts to achieve inclusive growth, President Paul Kagame has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 71st United Nations General Assembly underway in New York, the President said the centre of excellence will serve as a platform for African nations to share on improving the lives as well as from innovations and successes from other parts of the world.
Kagame is the co-chair of the SDG Centre for Africa Board alongside Nigerian business mogul Aliko Dangote.
The board that consists of more than 10 members also include, President Patrice Talon of Benin, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, President Alpha Conde of Guinea Conakry, President Idris Deby of Chad, President Alasssane Dramane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana and Jeffrey Sachs, an American economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.
The other members consist of a range of business and private sector leaders from across the continent.
Rwanda was selected to host the centre of excellence on SDGs, also known as Global Goals, in 2014 as the Millennium Development Goals came to an end.
The choice of Rwanda as the host of the African centre for the new 15-year global goals was due to Rwanda’s strong performance in the Millennium Development Goals.
Calling on African countries to render support toward the SDG centre, Kagame said Rwanda and the Board were keen on working closely with multiple partners and stakeholders to maximise the benefits of the agreement.
“The Global Goals add value to our respective national development plans, and Africa’s efforts to foster inclusive growth and prosperity. We are keen to work closely with all of you, to mobilise the support, commitment and enthusiasm needed, for Africa to maximise the benefits of this important agreement,” Kagame said.
The President said the centre will seek to open up room for citizen involvement and the participation of the private sector, among other things, to accelerate progress.
“Citizen ownership and involvement, gender equality, increased collaboration with the private sector, and technology, particularly Internet broadband, are key to accelerating progress. But we have a lot to share, about what works in improving the lives of our citizens. We also want to learn from innovations and successes in other sectors, and other parts of the world,” President Kagame said.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Kagame also participated in a high-level meeting showcasing the Sahel women empowerment and demographic dividend initiative under the theme, “Strengthening partnership to accelerate Africa’s demographic dividend.”
In the meeting, chaired by President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, President Kagame highlighted an approach to gender parity focusing on empowerment.
“One way has been to invest in schools, health and activities that will empower them and enable them to do things that benefit them. They have to be able to contribute to decisions that affect them and the whole country,” he said.
The President said the most successful approach to transformation is one that is built on mutually beneficial partnerships.
“Nothing will work unless we ourselves have determined we need to do things we can to build on the support we receive,” Kagame said.
The President highlighted the progress through numbers of women in leadership in Rwanda, including 64 per cent of women in parliament, 42 per cent in government and 50 per cent in local administration.
“These numbers tell a big story. Women are involved in everyday life, empowering themselves and making decisions. I don’t think what we have done is magic, it’s what anyone else can do. What we have achieved is just demonstration that it is possible and other people can do it,” Kagame added.
The high-level meeting was aimed at expediting the implementation of a continental initiative on demographic dividend for Africa ahead of the African Union Summit in 2017 that will he held under the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in the Youth.”