Kigali, 16 June 2011
President Kagame today officially opened the 42nd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Africa Region Conference, at Parliament buildings in Kimuhurura. Almost 300 delegates from 18 CPA Africa Region Members are attending the Conference. Some observers from other organs that include CPA International, EALA, SADC, ICGLR, among others, also attended. This year’s conference is held under the theme:Celebrating “Women as agents of change”.
Addressing the conference, President Kagame thanked the organizers for honoring Rwanda by holding the 42nd conference in Kigali despite the fact that Rwanda is a new comer in the Commonwealth. He also thanked members of the CPA for their support when Rwanda was seeking to join the Commonwealth.
President Kagame noted that Africa had made significant gains in the social and economic spheres during the last decade, which he said should be consolidated: “Over the last 10 years, net FDI grew from less than US $6 billion to more than US$ 29 billion. This year alone, average GDP growth across the continent is expected to be 5-6% and projected to rise in 2012. Within the same period, external debt fell from 65% to 22% – in part due to significant debt relief. We did not arrive at these figures by accident; they are products of conscious policy decisions and strategies Africa adopted and there is evidence that more investment in health and education are raising life expectancy and increasing literacy rates and skills. Conflict is on the decrease and trade on the increase.”
The president pointed out that Rwanda’s recent history had shown that much could be lost if attention is diverted from real issues: “Citizens must be empowered to participate actively in the process that determines their livelihood and well-being. Accountability is key and this refers to the responsibility if leaders towards citizens. Corruption cannot, and should not, be tolerated because it has proven to be a malignant cancer on our continent and beyond.”
President Kagame noted that there is recognition of the reality that the contemporary world is increasingly inter-dependent and connected. “This is where the relevance of the CPA is most evident – in seeking solutions to the many challenges we all face,” said the president.