VILLAGE URUGWIRO - President Paul Kagame has said that deeper integration will help countries to deal with economic crises as well as other challenges they face.
The President made the remarks during a news conference held at Village Urugwiro, yesterday.
Rwanda has maintained economic growth and a single digit inflation rate amidst spiralling inflation in the region.
The Head of State noted that proper fiscal management policies and practices have ensured that Rwanda remains stable.
“Much as the inflation is going up in Rwanda, it is still lower compared to other countries in the region. We are continuing to properly manage that and the biggest part of it is actually imported,” Kagame said.
“Our economy generally has been stable, our currency is stable. If you look at the rest of the region, we are doing better but we are not an island, we are not only affected by what happens here in our country, but by also what happens in the neighbourhood.”
President Kagame said that countries need to work with each other and focus on integration, observing that the challenges the countries are facing are of a much wider context than what is happening in one country or the sub-region of East Africa.
“Our economies, our people and our business are all clearly linked---interdependent and very connected. So we can’t, in anyway, say we are very fine and let’s put ourselves aside – no, in the end, it comes to you and affects you,” he said.
“We are going to keep focusing on integration and how it can work. We have to think about how integration works for us but not how it doesn’t work for us. That’s the best way to approach it.”
The President emphasised that with deeper integration, countries can get to share best practices and jointly adopt policies that would help address the challenges they face.
On the anticipated admission of Southern Sudan and the Republic of Sudan into the East African Community (EAC), President Kagame said that both countries have a right to their aspirations to join the bloc, just like other countries that wish to do so.
“We will be looking at it positively, even if we are aware that there are problems that are associated with this expansion.
“It should not stop us from favourably considering the deeper and broader integration,” Kagame said.
The President noted that broader integration comes with its challenges but mainly has benefits that include trade and investment.
“I think it is okay for the two Sudans to join. They have a lot to offer. They may come with challenges we may need to address together, but I think they will also make further contribution to what exists in the EAC,” he said.
President Kagame observed that while some regional blocs have shown weaknesses and lack of capacity in dealing with issues on the continent, others such as the EAC have demonstrated courage.
He cited Rwanda’s peacekeeping mission in Sudan as well as Uganda’s and Burundi’s intervention in Somalia.
“The reason we join blocs like EAC or even the AU is precisely to try and deal with those concerns but sometimes, it takes longer than we might expect.”
The Head of State also mentioned the East African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG), which carries out regular military exercises in the region as part of the plan to maintain regional stability.
“I think this is not a waste of time, resources and effort,” he said.
The President pointed out that, over time, Africans will develop the ability to deal with their own problems, mainly regarding conflict resolution.
Kagame spoke out on the intervention of NATO in Libya, noting that while the western body may have faults and double standards, its intervention in Libya was timely.
He said that the change in Libya wouldn’t have been realised or would have been extremely costly, had NATO not intervened.
The Head of State spoke about his recent visit to France, observing that the two countries had resolved to move forward and avoid being held ransom by history. He added that some of the outstanding issues would be addressed by relevant authorities and commissions.
President Kagame went on to question why countries that decline to hand over suspects of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, do not try them.
“If you cannot give these people to Rwanda for whatever reason, the next question becomes, why don’t you try them? Why don’t you properly put them to the courts of law in your own place?”
The President commended China-Africa relations, observing that the Asian powerhouse views Africa as an investment destination and trading partner, emphasising that this new development should not be seen as re-colonisation of Africa.
The Head of State added that the way the West deals with China is the same as how Africa deals with the Asian nation.