Kigali, 14 February 2011
President Kagame today delivered the inaugural State of the Nation address to Parliament. In his address, President Kagame said that Rwandans did not need to be reminded how bad governance, divisionism, conflict, and extreme poverty characterised this country for a long time with consequences that everyone saw.
“It would be correct to say that in rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide we started from scratch. And yet every aspect of reconstruction was a priority. We had to restore the security and unity of Rwandans. Orphans and widows needed protection. The sick, wounded and traumatised needed special attention. We had to get the economy back on its feet. We had to rebuild schools, hospitals and other infrastructure. In addition, we had to restore the justice system and end the culture of impunity. In short, we had to start the country afresh. Few foreign countries thought we would ever become a viable country again,” President Kagame said.
President Kagame noted that having come from thus far, Rwanda now has a voice on the international stage and enjoys respect among the nations of the world while all Rwandans, whether they live in the country or abroad, have a sense of pride and dignity in being Rwandan.
President Kagame outlined Rwandan fundamental principles as being “… fighting genocide ideology, promoting national unity, eradicating sectarianism, giving Rwandans equal rights and opportunities, power-sharing, building democracy based on different ideas and opinions and the right of choice, the rule of law, and a firm development vision that must be implemented as quickly as possible.”
President Kagame pointed out that Rwanda now has security throughout the country which allows Rwandans and foreigners to go about their business without fear. President Kagame attributed Rwanda’s development largely to good governance which he said has taken root in the country: “Through decentralisation, services have been brought closer to the people. Rwandans have a bigger role in choosing their own leaders and a say in programmes intended for them. Regular, free and peaceful elections are now part of Rwandan culture, as are accountability and transparency. Leaders must present to citizens their programmes for evaluation, and if found unsatisfactory, leaders are answerable and where grave errors have been committed, they are punished. ”
On the economy, President Kagame said that Rwanda’s GDP has grown at an average rate of 7% annually, and revenue collection had increased so that that it now stands at more than half of the national budget which pointed to a near future when Rwanda will be self-sufficient. Annual per capita income is now more than US $500, and food security has been achieved.
Calling on Rwandans not to be complacent, President Kagame said that efforts should be redoubled because the journey to sustainably transform lives was still long. “If we are to achieve this transformation, we must invest more in energy, electricity distribution and getting clean water to all citizens. There must be greater collaboration between the public and the private sector to provide better services. It is only then that our economy will be truly based on knowledge and technology,” President Kagame urged Rwandans to continue fostering unity, work hard and a build a country worthy of bequeathing to future generations.