President Paul Kagame on Monday addressed the 8th Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
In his opening remarks, President Kagame called on stakeholders to look beyond external resources and increase reliance on domestic resources:
“We have become used to thinking about development as something we do with money, or other means, coming from outside our countries, or our continent. However, we must continue to challenge ourselves, focusing on and making better use of what we already possess or can mobilise domestically. And there is plenty.”
On the issue of financing development, President Kagame emphasized the importance of national priorities guiding the funding needed:
“The idea is not to do things blindly and to our detriment, so that the money continues to flow. It has to be about making our societies better, because that is what we Africans want and deserve. Real impact happens when we first decide what we want to do, and then apply the money to it, as opposed to doing what the money may dictate.”
Speaking at the opening, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union, pointed to Rwanda as an example of regional integration as well as gender parity adding that Rwanda is leading the world with the highest number of women in parliament.
“It is doable, so let’s do it.” Dr. Dlamini Zuma added.
President Kagame called on faster implementation and a sense of urgency towards achieving results:
“We seem to have everything we need to achieve our Agenda 2063, except a sense of urgency and real ownership. Let us not continue to think someone else will get it done, or else we will only be waiting for ourselves, while the world waits for us. Until we move forward and do the practical things, as the AU Commission Chair said, we will only have dreams that delay or never come true.”
The opening panel included Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia; Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Sidi Ould Tah, Minister of Economy and Development Affairs in Mauritania and First Vice Chair of the Outgoing Bureau of Conference of Ministers.
The speakers highlighted the importance of private sector as well as the need for increased efforts towards regional integration, addressing high tariff barriers and the importance of diversifying products to ensure African markets do not remain reliant on commodities for their economic prosperity.
Bringing together finance ministers from across Africa, the meeting seeks to ensure a collective voice in the financing of Africa’s economic development in line with both Agenda 2063 and the Millennium Development Goals.
This year’s meeting was themed Implementing Agenda 2063 – Planning, Mobilizing and Financing for Development focused on the implementation of Agenda 2063 at a local and regional level, the financing of Agenda 2063 through both partnerships and resource mobilization.
President Kagame also attended the 18th COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government themed Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization Rwanda’s trade with COMESA has increased by 389% in the last ten years from RWF 36 billion to RWF 179 billion.
The 18th COMESA summit saw President Kabila chairmanship end with Ethiopian Prime Minister becoming COMESA new chairperson.
The economic region counts nineteen members including Burundi, Comoros, D.R. Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe with a population of over 389 million and an annual import bill of $32 billion.
Through trade liberalization, infrastructure, investment promotion and science and technology, the COMESA trade union aims to create a fully integrated region.