KIGALI - Former Japanese international footballer Hidetoshi Nakata has arrived in Rwanda to help mobilize people on the importance of working towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
His visit comes just months ahead of the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) scheduled between May 28 and 30.
Nakata, who arrived in the country yesterday, is scheduled to visit the Millennium Village in Mayange Sector in Bugesera District, Eastern Province, where he will interact with the local communities.
Rwanda is one of the pilot countries in which the UN is undertaking millennium village projects, which seek to help developing nations achieve MDGs by 2015.
Nakata is also expected to visit Mayange Health Centre, Mayange Primary School and a women basket weaving cooperative, all in areas near the Millennium Village Project site.
A UNDP statement said that Nakata (right) is in the country to advocate for TICAD, and to deepen his understanding of African development challenges and the collective response by the UN.
UNDP Country Director Safiou Esso Ouro-Doni said that Nakata’s visit was a symbol of just how much he supports UN-led development programmes.
“I am confident that his visit will help mobilise people on achieving the MDGs in Africa and in Rwanda in particular,” Doni said.
He added: “I hope that his message will reach out to as many people as possible and that concerted efforts by both the international community and the communities that will lead to the attainment of the MDGs in Africa and in Rwanda in particular.”
The 31-year-old footballer, who retired from football after the 2006 World Cup, has played in several prestigious football clubs across the world particularly in Italy and the UK.
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development aims at mobilising knowledge and resources of the international community in the core areas of boosting economic growth, ensuring human security including achieving MDGs and consolidating peace, and addressing climate change issues.
The conference seeks to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their partners; and to mobilise support for African-owned development initiatives.
UNDP contributes $750,000 (approx. Frw48m) per year to the Millennium Village project and has made a commitment to raise that contribution to $3.5m (approx. Frw1.9b) per year pending the success of their fundraising efforts and justification of need from the project.