PARLIAMENT - President Paul Kagame yesterday morning emphatically urged Rwandans and country leaders to focus on how the nation’s development can be fast-tracked.
He said this at Parliament buildings in Kimihurura while opening the Sixth National Dialogue Conference, a two-day event that brings together Rwandans, especially those in leadership positions, to discuss and share ideas on national issues, in particular how to solve current national problems.
Kagame stressed that he could not fail to remind the packed plenary room about the conference’s worth, and what is expected from it, in line with the aim of advancing the country.
“The country’s development is of paramount importance however much people might be different,” Kagame said, while underlining the importance of the meeting as a reminder to Rwandans of their common goal.
“What unites Rwandans and how they should fuse strengths to attain their common goal – the country’s development – should be the discussions’ outcome,” he pointed out, suggesting that differences such as in political ideology should not discourage efforts in that direction.
“We all want development however much our differences,” he said, giving the wider African continent as an example.
“With all its different countries, cultures and many other differences like religion, all of Africa wants development,” said the President.
While discussing issues, President Kagame emphasised that participants should come back to the central question – how can we speed up development?
He, however, also returned to one troubling thing, of which if a remedy was found fast, would be very beneficial – the continuous dependency on foreign aid.
“We should discuss and go back to this issue in all our deliberations,” he said, putting questions to the assembly – “How will we, how will Rwandans fare when this aid given to us by others stops coming?”
“What would happen to us if one morning we wake up and it (foreign aid) doesn’t appear?” he emphatically posed.
Two countries, The Netherlands and Sweden, recently announced their withdrawal of aid following a recent report by a group of UN experts which alleged that the Rwanda wasaiding a Congolese rebel group, allegations that have been strongly dismissed.
“Why I am posing that question is simply because it creates that sense of urgency, it is because we must pay attention to it as fast as possible,” a very concerned Kagame said.
The President voiced strong concerns over the fact that despite the many years aid has been coming, instead of building self-sufficiency capabilities and slowly reducing its coming, the situation only worsens.
“That means that basing on the present scenario,” he said, “we are people who will always need aid, generation after generation.”
“This is what I am talking about that must stop,” he remarked, stressing that, if answers to that concern were not found in the meeting, there would be a serious problem.
The high level meeting which was chaired throughout much of the day by the President is expected to end today.