• Speaks out on aid dependency
JOHANNESBURG - President Paul Kagame has challenged Africans to strive towards transforming and converting the abundant wealth the continent is endowed with into real prosperity.
He sounded the call yesterday while delivering a keynote address at the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Promise of Leadership Dialogue in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Africa is endowed with enormous human and material potential but remains a region with people trapped in poverty, hunger and diseases…this is a situation to be confronted head on,” Kagame told delegates at the inaugural three-day Summit organized by the Foundation, in partnership with the African Leadership Initiative (ALI).
The President, who was speaking on the topic ‘From Conflict to Reconstruction and Development: Rwanda’s Story’, said that Africa’s inability to transform its vast latent wealth into real prosperity places the continent in a difficult position of resorting to the never ending development aid dependency.
He noted that ironically, the continent has put itself in a position where more aid – not less is required to confront continued socio-economic difficulties, adding that its time for serious questioning and thinking about the future without aid.
Kagame asserted that it’s a fundamental challenge for Africa’s leadership to use African resilience and external support to create conditions that will enable the continent to end dependency which erodes the dignity and self-worth of its people.
“I am certain that many of our people believe that aid should only serve as a temporary bridge to fill a shortfall or play a vital role in mitigating emergencies – but it cannot become a long term substitute for business, investment, innovation and hard work,” Kagame stressed.
Addressing the Summit that was graced by former South African President Nelson Mandela, he added that there is no reason why Africa cannot ably stand on its own feet and solve the development challenges facing it just like the rest of world.
Giving an example of Rwanda, Kagame said that efforts of nation building should be viewed within the broader historical context and other circumstances to do with the continental quest for effective leadership.
A challenge for African people, to build healthier, skilled and economically prosperous societies. He highlighted the tremendous progress the country has registered for the last 15 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which among others include; putting into practice the concepts of broad-based leadership and an inclusive political process in the country by the post-genocide Government of National Unity.
“Under the Government of National Unity’s stewardship, peace and stability were established, and critical institutions such as those responsible for justice and reconciliation created,” Kagame told the dialogue attended by scores of African leaders. He however noted that it has been a challenging but rewarding process of nation building in the last fifteen years.
“Our liberation was not just an armed struggle or an exercise to simply remove bad governments. It was also about ensuring improved quality of life of our otherwise impoverished nation.”
“We therefore envisaged a better Rwanda with greater productive capacity based on its primary assets – its people, and secondarily, its material resources” Kagame noted.
In addition, the President said that the continent has registered significant and positive changes and more continue to be realised in a process which gathered momentum in the 1990s.
He cited an example of the defeat of the apartheid system and the rise of a society and leadership committed to reconciliation, democracy and development in South Africa in 1994, led by Nelson Mandela.