Rwandans have moved beyond mere survival and are now more determined than ever to pursue a prosperous and dignified future, President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame was on Wednesday giving a keynote speech at a major conference in Los Angeles, California in the United States, which attracted leaders from both the private and public sectors.
“Twenty years ago we sank to the very bottom; observers considered Rwanda a failed state and predicted it would remain so. For people of Rwanda, that was not an option.
“We had to move upwards and do it together. It’s about restoring life, hope and dignity of our people,” the President told his audience, according to a statement from the President’s office.
In 1994, Rwanda suffered one of the worst genocides in human history, losing more than a million of its people in the process.
The annual summit, dubbed the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, was initiated in 1953 with the objective of presenting speakers to “help Americans better understand the outside world and America’s role on the global stage”.
Stressing Rwanda's commitment to draw from its own context to provide solutions to its challenges, President Kagame shared the example of the Gacaca justice system. "In ten years, Gacaca tried two million cases for less than one billion dollars. The UN funded International Criminal Tribunal (for Rwanda) tried 60 cases in 19 years at a cost of two billion dollars."
The keynote speech was followed by an interactive session where topics discussed included Rwanda’s vision for the future and peace and security in the region.
President Kagame cited prosperity, stability and peace and security as top priorities for Rwanda’s future. “When we look around the world, in some places prosperity has been taken for granted. The question is why shouldn’t this be possible for others? We believe it is possible for Rwanda and Africa.”
The Head of State also emphasised the importance of regional integration and continental cooperation. “I don’t think of Rwanda out of the African context. Rwanda is not and cannot be an island. I wish for the rest of Africa what I wish for my country.”
Earlier in the day, Kagame toured the Shoah Foundation where 50, 000 testimonies of genocide survivors are preserved, including testimonies of survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Prior to addressing the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, President Kagame also held an interactive session with over 40 high school students.
The President was expected to continue his tour of California in San Francisco where he will be addressing the Wisdom 2.0 Conference on the socio-economic transformation of Rwanda, his office said.
The conference was expected to attract over 2000 leaders in several fields, including technology to politics, media and private sector to discuss the role of technology in transforming lives.