KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has said that a collective effort by governments, faith-based institutions and the business community is crucial in enhancing socio-economic development. He said this in his keynote address to a conference that tackled the role of faith-based and community initiatives in economic development through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and Economic Development. The conference took place at Serena Kigali Hotel yesterday.
“As we all agree, while the individual roles of governments, the business community, and faith-based institutions are critical for future development success – the more these constituencies act in unison, the more effective the results,” the President told participants.
The one-day conference was organised by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, whose director, Jay Hein was also in attendance.
Kagame said that despite their significant contribution in provision of various community services on the African continent, the faith sector tended to receive less attention regarding partnership for economic development than both governments and the business community.
“The Rwandan case is not different from the general African picture…provision of health is also shared – with government operating 57 percent of the facilities, and private efforts constituting forty three percent, of which twenty seven is affiliated to faith-based institutions,” said the President.
He added that churches have historically contributed to both the health and education sector.
The conference was also attended by American evangelist, Pastor Rick Warren, an international preacher who on Sunday launched his global initiative; 40 days of purpose in Kigali.
Through his Saddleback Church, Warren launched in 2005 an initiative known as PEACE (stands for “Plant churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation”), an initiative that he also launched in Rwanda.
Kagame however said that despite the significant contribution by faith-based institutions to economic development, there are inconsistencies mainly based on the partisan sentiment that compromise the ability to serve broader public interests.
“This sentiment was aptly captured by the then President of the World Bank, Mr James Wolfensohn when he stated in 2002 that “half the work in education and health in Sub-Saharan Africa is done by the Church, but they don’t talk to each other and they don’t talk to us”,” said the President.
He however noted that the vice is increasingly checked as denominational dialogue bears fruit, in addition to improved national environment that supports constructive engagement among the three stakeholders. During the conference, the President also noted an increased recognition of the approach by the United States Government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), which he said has 80 percent of its partners as indigenous faith- or community-based organizations.
The major aim of the conference, which was hosted by Hein, was to provide an insight on how the US government, through different projects, works to help partnerships with internationally operative faith and community-based organisations as well as corporate entities.