The United States has announced a new initiative to partner with several African countries, including Rwanda, to build capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers and to strengthen security institutions on the continent.
The new partnership was announced by President Barack Obama on the last day of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C, attended by about 50 African Heads of State and Government.
The initiative, Obama said, will last three to five years.
Rwanda maintains thousands of peacekeepers in several conflict-torn areas around the continent, including Central Africa Republic, South Sudan and Darfur in Sudan.
This month marks ten years after Rwanda’s first ever deployment of troops in an international peacekeeping mission.
Reacting to the latest development during an interactive session on the future of investment in Africa’s peace, security and governance on Wednesday, President Paul Kagame welcomed the initiative describing it as “an additional means” to ensure Africans remain at the forefront of solving their challenges, according to a statement from the President’s Office.
“We are a country shaped and informed by our own history, where peace and security was lacking and resulted in what happened 20 years ago. This is about enabling African to stand on its own feet and deal with issue of development and growth,” he said, in reference to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that claimed the lives of at least a million people.
Kagame added: “We are very happy to work with our colleagues across the continent and deal with different challenges including trying to keep and maintain peace in our continent.”
Rwanda and US have previously worked together on peacekeeping matters, with the latter particularly helping in airlifting Rwandan peacekeepers and military equipment to mission areas.
Last month, during its presidency of the UN Security Council, Rwanda drafted a resolution on how best the global body could bolster peacekeeping efforts on the African continent, which was unanimously adopted by the Council.
The US-Africa summit ended with a renewed commitment to strengthening mutually beneficial partnerships between both sides, with an emphasis on expanding trade, as well as strengthening partnerships in peace and security, and fast tracking sustainable development.
The summit resulted in new private sector deals worth over $14 billion, while President Obama pledged $7 billion towards doing business reforms in Africa.