President Paul Kagame has called on African countries to work together to fix the most critical challenges facing the continent.
He was speaking yesterday during a public lecture at the International University of Africa in Khartoum, Sudan where he was on a two-day state visit.
Kagame said his visit to Sudan aims not only to strengthen bilateral ties between Rwanda and Sudan, but was also in the spirit of advancing cooperation among African countries.
Cooperation, Kagame said, would go a long way in addressing the biggest and most pressing challenges facing the continent.
“The need to work together as Africans has always been pressing and we now have more reason than ever to reinforce our solidarity,” Kagame said.
He added: “The solutions to our biggest challenges are right here in Africa. They always have been only that we were conditioned, and sometimes forced, to rely on others, with their own interests.”
The Head of State arrived in Sudan yesterday on a state visit Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said signifies “the stepping up of the bilateral relations” between the two countries.
On the first day of his visit, President Kagame held a bilateral meeting with his host, President Omar al-Bashir, and attended a state luncheon and banquet held in his honour.
Addressing students at International University of Africa, Kagame outlined what he described as three pillars on which Africans can focus together to transform the continent. They include productive politics, accelerating African economic and political integration, seizing the opportunities presented by globalisation.
“Africa’s diversity should be seen as a source of vitality and dynamism. It is up to each one of us to contribute to this African character, one that is confident, at peace with itself, and open to partnership with the wider world,” the Head of State said. Ultimately, he added, “we should be responsible for our own security and well-being. No one will hand these to us for free.”
Kagame observed that Africa’s tremendous resources and opportunities have benefitted others “for far too long”, adding that the best way to make the continent’s resources work for Africans is to “stay united and collaborate closely on the things that have the most impact on the lives of our people.”
It should not be harder to do business within Africa than it is between Africa and other parts of the world, Kagame noted. “That is a recipe for exploitation, and poor terms of trade. Solidarity gives us the means to tackle these challenges more effectively than as individual countries with less leverage.”
The ongoing institutional reform of the African Union, Kagame says, aims to make the organisation “more focused, effective, and financially sustainable”.
He noted that AU reforms, like taxable imports are designed to make the African Union “less dependent on external partners” and more attuned to the interests and priorities that Africa has defined for itself.
“This is critically important for Africa’s future,” he said, adding: “I am happy to note that a good number of countries, including Sudan and Rwanda, have already begun to implement the new 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to finance African Union programmes.”
The 27th African Union summit held in Kigali in July 2016 decided that the money would be remitted to the AU Secretariat through the respective member states’ central banks.
A better organised African Union will allow for more mutually beneficial partnerships between Africa and other parts of the world,” said Kagame, who was last year chosen by his continental counterparts to spearhead the AU reform effort.
Kagame is set to assume the chairmanship of the African Union next month succeeding his Guinean counterpart Alpha Condé, who has led the Union since January 2017.
Speaking at the University, Kagame said that Africa is young, dynamic, and growing fast, and the continent already plays an active and positive role in global affairs, challenging young Africans to take the lead in global issues to transform their countries and continent at large.
“Your generation has everything it takes to make our continent what it should be,” the Rwandan leader told the youths.
The International University of Africa has students who come from over 70 different countries, mostly in Africa.
“You represent a wealth of ideas and perspectives and you have a critical role to play in building a better continent,” Kagame told the students. “We count on the young people of Africa to build a dignified and prosperous future for everyone on our continent.”
The President noted that Africa already has the means and ability to become politically and economically self-reliant but called for a sense of urgency.
Meanwhile President Al Bashir lauded efforts made by Rwanda to achieve peace and stability in the African continent, through participation in peace- keeping missions.
In a statement from President Bashir’s office, seen by The New Times, the Sudanese leader also commended the “strong stand” of Rwanda and its support to Sudan in regional and international forums, “as well as its clear position on the International Criminal Court (ICC) allegations that target the African continent.”
At the opening session of joint Sudanese – Rwandan officials talks at the Republican Palace on Wednesday, Bashir called upon African leaders to implement the decisions of the African Union Summit, especially walking out from ICC if it failed to respond to their demands.