Speech by H.E. Paul kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, At the ninth Government of Rwanda and Development Partners meeting. Kigali, Serena, November 4, 2010.

  • Excellencies;
  • Leaders of Rwanda’s higher institutions;
  • Cabinet Ministers;
  • Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region;
  • Mr. Bobby Pittman, African Development Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration;
  • Mr. Koos Richelle, Co-Chair of the OECD Working Party on Aid Effectiveness,
  • Mr. Aurélien Agbenonci, Co-Chair of the Development Partners Group;
  • Development Partners of our Government;
  • Heads of Diplomatic Missions and United Nations Agencies;
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me first of all welcome you all to this Development Partners Meeting.

I extend a special warm welcome to our development partners who have travelled from far to be part of this meeting, which has turned out to be a unique forum for us to exchange ideas, seek innovative solutions to our challenges and jointly agree on practical ways of addressing them.

There is no doubt that previous Development Partners Meetings have helped us to make progress.

At the last one we committed to implementing the EDPRS with annual progress reports, establish a Development Partners Assessment and a Private Public Partnership framework.

Since then, the Government of Rwanda has met these commitments and effected basic, yet critical reforms in areas such as Public Financial Management, planning, audit and procurement procedures, which constitute a firm foundation for further reform and development.

And I wish to acknowledge those development partners that provided both financial and technical support in this endeavour, with an increased number of you providing direct budget support which has shown to deliver higher and better results.

I am confident that we can build on this and seek to do better and achieve even more in the near future.

That is why I am pleased that the private sector is centre stage this year, and I am keen that we collectively agree on specific, innovative measures that not only help drive our emerging private sector but radically change the nature by which we support it, including through smarter and targeted aid.

The challenge, as I see it, remains delivering on our mutual commitments and actually translating them into results that improve the lives of the Rwandan people.

Sometimes we say the right things but fall short of matching the intentions with tangible results on the ground.

This calls for a reform of how the development industry operates, at least in Rwanda, so that ultimately, the support received empowers our citizens and enables them to have dignified lives.

However, as the 2010 Development Partners Assessment Framework has revealed, actions taken to improve the management and effectiveness of aid have varied.

Our joint experience has shown what works and where there has been a real partnership, the results speak for themselves.

Let’s strive, therefore, to ensure that this kind of partnership embodies all that we do and that we scale up and multiply targeted good practices, rather than follow a generic prescribed approach, which we know does not produce the expected results.

It is important to restate the underlying principles for sustainable progress that should guide our deliberations today and our partnership in future.

Real partnership requires genuine accountability and reciprocity.

We should hold each other accountable in this socio-economic transformation process, based on the tenets of alignment with home grown systems, agreed priorities and a relentless focus on delivering results.

We must accept that accountability is a two-way street that balances the legitimate interests of the donor and the aspirations of our countries to reduce poverty and promote development.

We have you, our development partners, our Parliament and our citizens to account to – and we already have accountability mechanisms with you such as the EDPRS and Development Partners Assessment Framework, which provide clarity as to when, how and who to report progress against.

I want to stress that Rwanda has long since come of age and that this government is part and parcel of our people, fully representative as they have so decided. And as we are able to manage our socioeconomic process, so are we able to manage our political project.

It is therefore sometimes uncalled for, that we become subjects of endless lectures of how we should manage ourselves. We know what is best for us. No one should pretend that they know better than us what we need for ourselves.

Some of the issues that represent us and those behind them would serve well to settle in to the idea that we are a people who know what we want.

In this joint process, development partners have a crucial role in providing financial certainty when they pledge to give support, as a means of further strengthening our democratic processes.

This can only happen if the support we receive is predictable, effective and supports the democratic process we wish to bolster.

When this is not forthcoming, planning for delivery is hard and accountability becomes difficult.

Rwanda values the support it receives from you all, which has undoubtedly contributed to the good progress you can see today.

And for this we thank you.

But let me also reiterate my belief that we could still do much better, and we are committed to doing our part to that end.

The aid received by countries like Rwanda should seek to help us develop sustainably and in a dignified manner, rather than create dependency.

By this I mean achieving a development that does not begin and end with progress reports and figures alone, but where the beneficiaries of that development, the people, our people, have a say and are actively involved in the process.

In this meaningful relationship we are always open to good ideas and innovations, but ultimately it is us who need to make the difficult decisions.

We know that there are cases in some places of the world that raise concern about misallocation and mismanagement of aid. We should avoid painting all countries with the same brush.

Where this doesn’t apply, continued progress should not be halted; rather each country should be measured against the positive reforms and progress they are making.

Over time we are better placed to integrate external support more effectively and efficiently as we have built, with your support, institutions and systems responsive to the needs of our citizens.

This leads to a win-win situation, where real partnership happens and we see the results which we can all show.

Let me return now to the role of the private sector that I referred to earlier.

In pursuit of our development, we need to constantly innovate and move beyond the traditional development paradigm.

In Rwanda, we have a firm desire to see growth in our private sector and for it to play a bigger role than in the past.

That is why we have sought to improve our doing business environment, and we want to do even more to ensure the effect of change is really felt on the ground.

Rwandans can now register their businesses through one procedure in one day, increasingly count on 24hr border operations at various points to ease trade and file for tax clearance online, and so forth.

Since these reforms do have impact, I want to thank Ms. Ezekwesili for being the bearer of good news on Rwanda’s performance in the Doing Business rankings 2011. We have no intention of resting on our laurels and today’s announcement strengthens our resolve to not only continue the reforms but go further still.

I urge you, therefore, to help us build on these reforms and to channel financial resources, as well as other forms of support, to our private sector and create opportunities for them to contribute more to our development process.

We all know that in the long-term, it is business and trade that will drive our economic growth and social transformation; and it is in this way that a well nourished democracy grows. We are not interested in a malnourished democracy.

We have always made it clear that good and effective governance is the cornerstone of our national development.

Our commitment to it is unshakable because it is not only good for all our people, but will be the only means of achieving future prosperity for our country.

In fact, without good governance we would not have jointly achieved what we have for the Rwandan people, and that is why we place such a high premium in the active participation of our citizens in all development projects – which in turn, does not hinder but rather reinforces democratic values and practices.

And because we want to promote a more reciprocal approach to good governance and development, our Government is constantly working with development partners to develop mechanisms that allow parties to conduct evidence-based assessments of our governance systems and practices.  We welcome your support so the real story is not missed by some so-called experts and governance ratings.

In conclusion, let me say that we expect to make further progress through this Development Partners Meeting.

We need to continue to work together and listen to each other, as we are serious about our commitment to develop and achieve results for our people – who must remain at the heart of everything we do. That is what real partnership is about.

And this will lead to the transformation of our country and people.

I thank you all for your kind attention and wish you fruitful deliberations.