President Paul Kagame has used his inaugural speech as African Union chairman to tell Member States that it is time to change the perpetuated narrative that ‘Africa is a burden’.
Kagame appreciated efforts of his predecessors at the AU chairmanship, the staff of the union and country members for their commitment to serve and develop Africa in general, but is concerned that generations pass, others come but living conditions of the continent’s citizens are rather worsening
Change of the miserable conditions of the African people will not come overnight, but Kagame is of a view that it should not take two decades either.
“We have helped perpetuate the narrative that Africa is a burden. This way of thinking has been around for decades.
Fixing it won’t take a year, but it need not take twenty years either,” Kagame said during his acceptance speech at African Union Headquarters- Adis Ababa, Sunday 28th.
For Kagame, it is saddening when you count the time and resources Africa lost, but there is a formula the continent can use to recover.
He said, “We should choose to respond with discipline and facts, in order to re-focus us on our common humanity.”
Also to save Africa from what he terms as permanent deprivation, Kagame reiterated something to which he is much attached.
“We must create a single continental market, integrate our infrastructure and infuse our economies with technology.”
No African country should take this connection for granted, trading in and with each other for granted.
From his experience of leading Rwanda from ash and developing it at a point that it finances its budget at 80% as of today, Kagame has realized that, “No country or region can manage on its own. We have to be functional and we have to stay together.”
Staying together, unity is a motto and a commitment of African nations and it is indeed a key concept for the continent development, and for Kagame, “this is an advantage which no other region of the world possesses in such abundance.”
This unity will help African countries to be “part of a more assertive and visible Africa” which is a dream for every member state.
Luckily enough, Kagame said “The programmes, policies and priorities of the African Union contain the right tools for the job.”
Besides the tips that will allow Africa to graduate from deprivation and embrace abundance, Kagame alluded some programs ahead.
“Today we launch the Single African Air Transport Market, a major step forward for transportation. We are nearly ready to adopt the Continental Free Trade Area. It needs to be done this year,” he said.
“Soon we will have the funds to support the African prosperity agenda. The levy on eligible imports is being implemented, the Golden Rules were recently approved by Finance Ministers and we have a more credible budget process in place.”
For President Kagame, the bottom line is to improve the wellbeing of African citizens.
“Our people deserve a brighter future. Their sacrifice and hard work should be rewarded with better lives for families and communities,” Kagame said.
“Our job is to make sure that every generation enjoys a better one than the last.”
Kagame expects the youth, the women to come on board for development of the continent.