President Paul Kagame has attributed the country’s continuous progress to ability by Rwandans to own the transformation process and do all it takes to achieve national aspirations.
“It has been a very long and challenging journey. The most important thing is that the progress involves Rwandans. We do what it takes to fulfill our potential and our aspirations,” the President said in a lecture to over 400 students who attended the Stanford Business School Global Speaker Series on Friday.
The President listed social and economic stability as key elements in Rwanda’s development to date.
“We work to put in place the right environment: political stability, security and institutional governance that prioritises accountability.”
On the issue of aid, President Kagame pointed to the need for the recipients and donors to redefine their relationship. “There is nothing wrong with aid as long as it serves the purpose of getting people out of a cycle of poverty and dependency. Donors have been good at providing aid but not good at recognising that recipients know their own needs and priorities. On the recipients side, the focus has been on getting aid rather than on what we need to stand on our own. We need to hold each other accountable on how aid is used and how to work together to get rid of aid.”
Speaking on the question of presidential terms, Kagame challenged those present to go beyond empty rhetoric and respect the voices of Rwandans. “I have been asked this question since I came into office. I do not write the constitution; it is written by Rwandans. Can you respect Rwandans and allow them to do what is right for them? I am here to deliver to my people not to keep answering these questions.”
The President concluded his lecture by sharing his vision for the future: “My vision is one where Rwandans and Africans live dignified lives [with Africa] playing its rightful role in global affairs.”
The President held interactive discussion with students from Stanford Business School where he shared his personal experience in rebuilding the nation.
“Twenty years ago, we did not only lose one million lives. We nearly lost a whole country. We were left with nothing. No money, no infrastructure. Entire families were exterminated leaving individuals standing alone. That is the situation we had to manage. Today we work together, we learn from our mistakes and we move forward together,” he said.
The Global Speaker Series seeks to enrich the GSB community’s global perspective by inviting top executives, government leaders and distinguished personalities to speak on globally relevant topics that inspire students to develop as future leaders.