In many ways, 2016 was a remarkable year for Rwanda. It is hard to pick an event that stood out most but perhaps 2016 will be remembered as the year when Rwanda successfully hosted a number of high level international conferences in which it was a window of opportunity to demonstrate its development and capacity in many ways.
To start with, on October 15, 2016, almost 200 countries gathered in Kigali and endorsed the amendment to the Montreal Protocol, dubbed as the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), in a move that could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century.
The amendment calls for developed countries to start reducing their consumption of HFCs by 2019 and for developing countries to freeze their levels of HFCs by 2024 for some states and 2028 for others.
Manufacturers have used HFCs to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—phased out under the Montreal Protocol—as refrigerants in a variety of products.
The new amendment pledges the countries to provide funding for alternatives “that do not deplete the ozone layer and have a smaller impact on the climate, such as ammonia or carbon dioxide.”
As noted in one of my previous pieces, Rwanda was selected to host that gathering because of its remarkable role in implementing the Montreal Protocol, exceeding targets and beating deadlines set under the agreement.
Second was the hosting of the 27th AU Summit in Kigali with the theme: “2016: African Year of Human Rights, with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
This was one of the major international conferences hosted in the recent years. The Summit aimed essentially at fast-tracking initiatives designed to make the African Union Commission (AUC) financially independent.
The Summit concluded with a commitment to make the body more efficient and galvanise the continent’s ambition to become a truly peaceful, independent and prosperous organization.
Here, I must say hosting such an event is no picnic and it was equally a showcase for the country’s achievements as well as transformational agenda. As well, a momentous occasion to demonstrate its capacity to host the future international gatherings.
Equally, it is worth remembering hosting the World Economic Forum, commonly abbreviated as ‘WEF’, in Kigali for the first time in Africa. The gathering aimed at focusing more generally on Africa’s pathway to transformation.
Particularly, the WEF members committed to improving the state of the world—that’s international organization for Public-Private Partnership. Participants resolved to accelerate digital revolution of Africa in all areas of life, to stamp out corruption as one of the perennial bottlenecks to growth and development as well as to increase enabling conducive investment climate, among others.
In particular, corruption is seen a perennial challenge to Africa and other regions around the world. To date, corruption is at the centre of so many of the world’s problems. Collectively and individually, we ought to report and combat corruption in all its forms.
Tackling corruption is vital for sustaining economic stability and growth, maintaining security of communities, protecting human rights, reducing poverty, protection the environment for future generations and addressing serious and organised crimes.
Finally, the 2016 World Bank ‘Doing Business Report’ ranked Rwanda 2nd in Africa after Mauritius. And globally, Rwanda was 56th out of 190 countries. In the EAC, for a couple of successive years, Rwanda has been ranked number one. Rwanda’s current ranking tellingly illustrates the continuous efforts to ease doing business of all sorts and sizes.
It quite interesting to note that the World Bank Doing Business Report typically focuses on regulations that affect domestic small and medium-size enterprises, operating in the largest business city of an economy, across 10 areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
Like in Rwanda, there are notable developments that happened around the world which came as firestorm stories. The winning of the USA Presidential election which was seen as a shock in the minds of many non-Americans. Very many non-Americans, including myself, were dumbfounded at Hillary Clinton losing, who was the most likely winner.
Nevertheless, the voters’ will was unequivocally manifested. Another development was the Brexit. Following the referendum held to stay or leave European Union, the UK ultimately voted to leave the European Union. Again, arguably, the voters’ will was manifested.
In the late last year, November 4, 2016, the world saw a successful entry into force of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It required at least 55 ratifications accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions to enter into force. Currently, 123 Parties, out of 197 members, have ratified the Agreement.
Last but not least, the appointment of the current United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, who succeeded Ban Ki-moon. Everybody is now longing to see how the new UN Chief will address the enormous challenges facing the international community, such as maintaining peace and security, promoting economic development, and combatting climate change.
The writer is an international law expert.