AFRICANGLOBE – President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has called on the African leaders and citizens to work towards continental unity and integration.
The President was this evening officiating at the opening of an East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) session at the Parliamentary Building in Kigali.
“Continental unity and integration are our best insurance against denial of our ability to play our rightful role in the world,” the Head of State told the lawmakers, drawn from the EAC partner states of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
He called on East Africa, in particular, and the whole African continent, in general, to be prepared to compete on the world stage. “We must increase the level of intra-African trade and investment and extend integration across the continent.”
Kagame also outlined several opportunities that the continent offers, including enormous reserves of natural resources, youthful populations and the fact that Africa is the only continent that reached an average annual growth rate of 5 per cent over the last five years.
But the President called on the region’s legislators to push for policies that serve the people best. “It is crucial that decision-making and oversight mechanisms become more responsive to aspirations of East African citizens”.
Kagame urged EALA members to “move fast on the creation of a single customs territory to facilitate trade across the region” as agreed in the various protocols guiding the bloc’s integration process.
In a veiled reference to hostile western policies towards Africa, Kagame said the continent needed to stand up for her own rights.
“Africa is the only place where lies are told about you and right to reply is denied by those who teach freedom of expression. Today, Africa remains the only place where people are warned about the consequences of their democratic choices,” he said.
The President also talked of the need for the continent to reduce dependence on external financing “whose continuity cannot be guaranteed”.
By: Eric Bright