PARLIAMENT - President Paul Kagame, yesterday, officially addressed the nation in the first ever State of the Nation speech, during which he highlighted the country’s achievements over the last 16 years.
The function, in Parliament, attended by government leaders, legislators, diplomatic corps, representative of the civil society and the private sector, follows last year’s amendment of the Constitution, giving the President the mandate to make the State of the Nation address, once a year.
President Kagame said that talking about where the country stands today requires one to look back and see where it has come from. He cited bad leadership, ethnic divisions, poverty and social injustices, as some of the issues the country has overcome.
The Head of State said that after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the country had to start from a low base, rebuilding almost everything, to come up with a “new Rwanda” that every Rwandan desired.
The President spoke about the status of the country’s economy, peace and security, justice, education, health and ICT sector.
The Head of State noted that the rate at which the economy is growing is very impressive, noting that it has averaged a growth rate of 7 to 8 per cent
He highlighted the achievements in the education sector, observing that many schools; both secondary and primary have been built to ensure that all Rwandan children access education with a new modern and favourable curricula.
He further referred the health sector, saying that the government has built hospitals and many health centres to ensure that all Rwandans access healthcare while the number of doctors and ambulances has tremendously increased.
Over 96% of Rwandans have medical insurance compared to 7% in 2003, while deaths by diseases and epidemics have greatly reduced. Malaria, which was the leading cause of death, responsible for 40.6% of total deaths dropped to 13% in 2010.
President Kagame further cautioned against complacency, urging Rwandans to draw lessons from the past, and work hard for a better future, noting that where there is a will, there a way.
Prior to his speech, Jean de Arc Nyinawase from the Liberal Party (PL) was sworn in as a Member of Parliament.