To begin, I wish to express our condolences and sympathies to the people of Morocco and Libya.
I thank President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and the Government and people of Cuba, for the warm welcome and hospitality in Havana. This is the city and the country I had the opportunity to live in for nine months, 36 long years ago. I am very happy to be back.
Mr President, I also wish to commend you for your leadership as Chair of the Group of 77 plus China.
Today, developing countries are disproportionally affected by global shocks, including climate change, geopolitical tensions, and the lingering effects of the pandemic.
Science and technology have the power to unite us, and transform our future for the better.
Unfortunately, access to the latest technology is not universal. In poorer countries, this negatively affects the response to emergencies. A case in point is the pandemic, where vaccines became available according to wealth.
The concentration of technological development in rich countries also encourages brain drain.
In Rwanda, we have made significant investments in digital skills, technology, and data governance frameworks.
This is driven by two factors.
For one, our vision is to become a knowledge-based economy. In line with this objective, we have invested in digital skills and literacy.
Today, the Kigali Innovation City is home to world-class universities such as Carnegie Mellon Africa, where students, including women and girls, have the opportunity to specialize in ICT. Ultimately, we want them to innovate solutions for our common challenges.
Secondly, our investment in digital transformation has been informed by the need to close the imbalances in human capital development between rich and poor countries. Among other factors, we believe these imbalances to be a root cause of the migration crisis, which, unfortunately, continues to break families apart.
The private sector is a key partner for us.
In just a few months, we will officially inaugurate BioNTech’s state-of-the-art vaccine manufacturing plant in Rwanda. The vaccines produced will also be distributed across Africa.
Additionally, this year, the Research Institute Against Digestive Cancer, also known as IRCAD, will open its Africa centre in Rwanda.
As we work toward our milestones, we also benefit from South-to-South cooperation. South-to-South cooperation can mean different things. But in our context, it should be about changing the narrative that developing countries cannot be part of global solutions, for ourselves and the whole world.
Beyond science and technology, we have a lot to offer the world, including in the field of energy, agriculture, and peace and security. This wealth of knowledge and expertise, we also need to share among ourselves.
In the case of the Group of 77 plus China, we represent more than 80 percent of the world’s population. That is a comparative advantage, and we need to make good use of it to fulfil our promise of building a brighter future for our people.
Science and technology are evolving at a very fast pace, with artificial intelligence at the heart of this growth. We are still in the beginning phases of putting in place a comprehensive framework to regulate this new technology.
Left unchecked, there is no doubt that artificial intelligence can have drastic consequences on safety and privacy, more so in the developing world.
Nevertheless, we have to search for the silver lining. In developing countries, artificial intelligence can increase the productivity of our industries and make them more competitive in the global market. The impact on our economies will be positive.
I am confident that our strength will always stem from translating challenges into opportunities.
To end, I would like to commend Cuba for being a trailblazer in the field of science and technology. Today, your country is home to some of the best doctors in the world. We have a lot to learn from you.
I also commend Cuba’s contributions to development in Africa and beyond. It continues to be a testament to the power of beneficial cooperation within the Global South.
Let’s continue building on this strong foundation because together, we are stronger.
Once again, Mr President, thank you for hosting us in beautiful Havana. We truly appreciate the warm and gracious hospitality.
I thank you for your kind attention.