Presidents Paul Kagame and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea have called for stronger African solidarity and South-South cooperation as the two countries announced new efforts to step up bilateral ties.
They were speaking at a joint news briefing at Village Urugwiro in Kigali yesterday at the end of President Obiang’s two-day state visit, during which both sides signed a General Cooperation Agreement, which covers at least 10 areas of mutual interest.
The principals applauded as their respective foreign affairs ministers signed the multi-sectoral agreement, which encompasses governance, air transport, trade exchanges and investment promotion, tourism and immigration, and agro-industry.
Other areas include information and communication technology, health, defence and security, energy, and housing policy.
This comes barely three weeks after the two leaders agreed to scale up bilateral cooperation during Kagame’s visit to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where he had gone to attend the recent Assembly of the African Union Summit.
“We had very fruitful discussions between the two of us and the two delegations and from here we want to see practical steps taken to implement different agreements we have reached,” Kagame said.
The two leaders acknowledged the need for African solidarity, South-South cooperation and search for African solutions to African problems, according to a joint statement.
South-South cooperation is a term that was coined to refer to official exchange of resources and knowledge between developing countries.
The presidents acknowledged that for far too long there had been little in terms of implementation, adding that this is the time to take concrete steps to strengthen intra-African ties as well as South-South cooperation.
“South-South cooperation is as important as it has ever been. We have known this for too long and we need to get started,” Kagame said.
He added: “We need to hold ourselves accountable, hold each other accountable and act in a way that serves our people.”
Lack of solidarity blamed
President Obiang blamed lack of African solidarity for the slow progress of intra-African cooperation and western interference in internal African issues.
He said African countries were no longer colonies. Obiang, whose country is endowed with huge oil deposits, said Africa’s natural resources should benefit Africans.
He faulted Africans for failing to challenge the legitimacy of the Hague-based International Criminal Court, which he said is used as a tool of Western powers to target African leaders.
He wondered why the continent had failed to establish a tribunal to handle justice matters, rather than allow westerners to intervene in Africa’s internal matters at will.
Every region should cater for its own problems, he said, explaining that Africans can manage their affairs the same way Europeans are allowed to manage their own problems, such as Ukraine.
However, Kagame said it was not all doom and gloom for the continent, pointing at several gains made over the years. “We should not get lost in the negatives and concentrate on that as if it is Africa’s way of life, we should also bear in mind and be discussing the many positive things that have taken place.”
“We see more stable countries and governments, economies that are growing consistently across the continent, and this is not happening by accident; it’s happening because Africans are doing the right thing,” President Kagame said.
But he added: “Maybe we need to be moving faster. The progress has been slow, can we do better, can we do more for our countries, our continent? There is always room for improvement, there is always a need to act urgently and address the many needs that our people have to improve our lives.”
He pointed out the need for Africa to urgently address issues of capacity which often leave it at the mercy of the West, adding that continent would develop faster if it genuinely capitalised on the gains made in certain areas.
The two Heads of State also “expressed their concern on the security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic and pledged to intensify their joint efforts towards a lasting solution.”
Meanwhile, President Obiang lauded his host and Rwandans in general for turning around their country’s fortunes following the devastation caused by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“We have witnessed a united people working together towards a common vision of peace and prosperity. We admire the journey you have made in achieving progress and reconciliation despite your dark past. Your determination to bring peace to your nation is an example as we strive to build a conflict free Africa,” he said.
Kagame attributed Rwanda’s phenomenal recovery to unity of purpose, accountability, and dignity for every Rwandan.
“We had simply to correct the politics and the management of it so that our people can have a country they deserve and restore the dignity of our people.
“The investments we made were centred on valuing our people and creating institutions and the understanding that Rwandans are better off standing together and not being divided.”