Kigali, 5 October 2012

Your Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Republic of Gabon and First Lady Sylvia Bongo;

Members of your distinguished delegation;

Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I am honoured to welcome you, Mr President, the First Lady and your distinguished delegation to Rwanda, or as we say in French, “Bienvenus au Rwanda”. The government and people of Rwanda extend their warm greetings to you and, through you, to their brothers and sisters in Gabon.

Your presence here among us is evidence of the friendship, strong cultural ties and shared values between our two countries and peoples. This historic visit offers us a valuable opportunity to cement and elevate them to a higher level of cooperation and collaboration.

We hope, Mr President, that you and your delegation are enjoying your stay with us.

Mr President;

Earlier this year, all of Africa watched with much enthusiasm the African Cup of Nations, which you co-hosted with Equatorial Guinea. It brought together some of Africa’s finest sporting youth and revealed their exceptional talents.

More significantly, the tournament brought Africa together in a spirit of healthy competition and the desire to be the best, but also demonstrated the benefits of working together. This spirit displayed in Libreville and other cities in Gabon this past February should further spur Africa to aspire to achieve excellence – individually and collectively – and to work closely together. As we saw, we have the talent, the will and the capacity to achieve great things.

The need to work closely together has never been more urgent as in this age of an increasingly competitive, yet inter-dependent, global environment.

Our common desire for the development of our countries – based on the freedom and dignity of the citizens, and justice and prosperity for all – dictates that African countries should strengthen the bonds between them, increase trade links and broaden political and diplomatic collaboration.

It is our firm belief that we can achieve this collective strength, gain a stronger and unified voice in dealing with the rest of the world if we fully exploit the potential of integration offered by the various regional groupings.

Distinguished guests;

Let me now invite you to join me in a toast to the health of His Excellency President Ali Bongo Ondimba, to the First Lady of the Republic of Gabon and to the prosperity and happiness of the people of Gabon and Rwanda.

I thank you for your kind attention and wish you a pleasant evening.