Excellencies Heads of State;
H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta of the Republic of Uganda
H.E. President Blaise Compaoré, of the Republic of Burkina Faso,
H.E. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, of the Republic of Gabon,
H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit, of the Republic of South Sudan,
H.E. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, of the Republic of Mali
H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta, of the Republic of Kenya and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta
Distinguished Heads of Delegations;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am delighted to welcome your Excellencies and your delegations to Rwanda and I take this opportunity to convey to you the very warm greetings and best wishes of Rwandans.
Tonight we are privileged to have many distinguished guests who came to participate in two different yet complementary events; the Integration Projects Summit and the Transform Africa Summit – both of which address important issues of Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
Beyond the specific issues they seek to address, these summits remind us of the importance of solidarity. The kind of solidarity that gives us strength and confidence and enables us to tackle challenges we would not be able to face alone. These challenges – be they about security, economic and social transformation, adapting new technologies and putting them to the service of our people, or relations with other parts of the world – become lighter when shared and when we adopt common approaches to address them. That is the power of collective strength.
But tonight, we are not gathered here to discuss challenges, we are here to share and celebrate something different but equally important– our friendship, our common aspirations as African leaders, and those we lead, and our shared vision of greater prosperity, dignity and security for our people. Together, there is no doubt that we can realize our common vision and aspirations.
I should say before I close that, it has been too long since we have been held in contempt as Africans and it is high time we said no to it. The topics of our discussions today and tomorrow simply are and constitute one of those ways in which to say no but it is not only one way; it has to start from belief that we actually can say no and mean no.
May I now request you all to join me in a toast to the health of our own selves and our relationships and also to the wellbeing of our people and our continent? Our people need and deserve friendship prosperity and happiness.
I thank you.