Monday August 28, 2017
President Paul Kagame on Aug.18 pledged to work for Rwandans with pride and honour as he made his inauguration speech at Amahoro National Stadium in the country’s capital, Kigali.
The major highlight of the inauguration, which came 14 days after Kagame won the Aug.4 polls with nearly 99 percent, was that over 19 heads of states mostly from the African continent attended.
“Today is a day of celebration and a day to thank each of you,” President Kagame said during his inauguration speech, “The presence of so many brothers & sisters from around Africa honours our nation deeply and gives us strength. We thank you. Africa has been with Rwanda when we needed you most.”
Among the Africans leaders who attended was Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who doubles as the chairman for the East African Community; Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyata, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Namibia’s Hage Geingob, Gabon’s Ali Bongo Ondimba, the acting President of Nigeria, Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou, CAR’s Faustin Archange Touadera, among others.
The others included; Brahim Ghali of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Niger, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, Macky Sall of Senegal, Sasou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo and Hage Gottfried Geingob of Namibia.Kagame used the opportunity to thank Africa for standing with Rwanda throughout its trying times.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat and former Botswana President Festus Mogae also attended. The Tanzanian President Pombe Magufuli was represented by former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa, who came in the presidential chopper.
“Nothing gives our people greater pride than contributing together with you to the greatness of our continent,” he said, “Standing alongside us are friends of Rwanda who have always kept our country in their hearts and worked hard to advance it.”
The overwhelming attendance of African leaders was a major acknowledgment of Kagame’s pivotal role in turning Rwanda into a major player on the continent.
Uganda’s President Museveni appeared to confirm that when he posted on his Twitter account that Rwanda has over the past two decades rebuilt itself into a “stable nation”, registering strong economic growth and development adding that he looked forward to making bilateral ties between the two countries even stronger.
“Rwanda is now a key player on the regional, continental and global arena, with commendable engagements within the EAC and the African Union,” reads Museveni’s statement.
Kenya’s Uhuru said his visit to Rwanda was geared towards strengthening the strong ties and strategic partnership that exist between our two nations– especially infrastructure development projects like the Northern Corridor Integrated Projects.
Apart from African leaders, Kagame also recognized the contribution of his two contenders in the race– opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, who shared the remaining one percent of the vote in the elections.
Kagame said that by bringing their message directly to citizens, together, they created a positive environment where no vote was cast against anyone but rather all cast for.
Away from the candidates, Kagame acknowledged the leaders and members of the eight political parties that joined RPF to nominate him as their candidate.
He said that RPF had collaborated with these leaders for 23 years with deep mutual respect to repair the social fabric of our devastated nation.
Kagame’s swearing in ceremony was presided over by Rwanda’s Chief Justice Sam Rugege. The ceremony marked the beginning of the incumbent’s 7-year term in which Kagame is expected to further industrialise Rwanda.
“You are going to see a major drive aimed at industrializing Rwanda in these coming years,” said an insider when asked what the president was likely to focus on in his new term.
The country’s Vision 2020 targets industrial contribution to GDP of 26% by 2020. And under Kagame’s leadership Rwanda has already made major strides in positioning as Africa’s hub for technology, pharmaceutical research and conference tourism.
The Rwandan business environment has already created startups including mobile technologies company Hehe Ltd.
Initiatives like YouthConnekt, connect young people to role models and resources to realize their dreams. It is these initiatives among others that have attracted international billionaires like China’s Jack Ma to Rwanda.
When he visited East Africa last year, the billionare who was accompanied by 38 other billionares only decided to visit Rwanda and Kenya. Ma’s visit was seen as a major vote of confidence in the innovation and business environment of a country where it now takes only six hours to register a business.
Over all, Kagame is praised for transforming the country’s economy. By creating a good business environment, Kagame’s leadership has enabled the small country of 12 million people grow Foreign direct investment to as high as $323 million in 2015, up from $40 million in 2005, according to the World Bank.
Amidst all this, Kagame has had to deal with all manner of criticism especially from the international community.
At the inauguration, he appeared defiant and pledged to forge ahead. Every attempt that was made from within and especially from outside to denigrate the process and glorify the old politics of division, he said, only made Rwandans more defiant and more determined to express ourselves through the vote.
“Our experience is that we will be vilified anyway no matter what, Kagame said, “So we might as well do what we know is right for our people.”